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LAHORE: On the request of Punjab government, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has constituted an inquiry committee to look into the matter of death of Zohra Bibi.

Comprising Prof Dr Eice Muhammad, Prof Dr Mussadiq Khan and Prof Dr Shafiqur Rehman, the committee would submit its report on Jan 13, said PMDC President Prof Dr Shabir Lehri on Tuesday.

Prof Lehri said the PMDC had written letters to Arif Memorial Teaching Hospital and Rashid Latif Medical College, Lahore, to explain their position.

“It is highly objectionable that the medical and dental colleges are not providing free treatment to the poor patients. The PMDC will not spare any institution not following its rules,” he said.

According to PMDC regulations, private teaching hospitals are bound to provide 50 per cent of their beds to the poor patients and give them free of charge treatment.

After punishing the senior medics of the state-run teaching institutes, the Punjab government also asked the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) to take punitive action against two leading private institutes of the provincial capital in the same case.

The Punjab government also asked the PMDC for action against other private hospitals of the province that were not providing treatment to the poor patients as per council’s regulations.

The PMDC regulations clearly prescribe allocation of 50 percent free beds for poor patients at all private hospitals.

Though, the complaints of private facilities denying free treatment to the deserving patients are common, it is for the first time the Punjab government took up such an issue with the PMDC in clear terms.

Zohra Bibi’s death made headlines after she was found dead on the floor of Jinnah Hospital for the want of timely treatment. The Chief Minister Inspection Team (CMIT) had finalised its inquiry report on the direction of Shahbaz Sharif.

The health department particularly acted against Arif Memorial Teaching Hospital and Rashid Latif Medical College after the chief minister’s inspection team (CMIT) held the both equally responsible for Zohra Bibi’s death because of denial of treatment when she visited these facility.

The Specialized Healthcare & Medical Education Department apprised the PMDC head on Jan 9 through a letter about the outcome of the probe conducted by the CMIT into the Jinnah Hospital death and role of Arif Memorial Teaching Hospital Lahore in the case. A copy of the letter is also available with Dawn.

“The competent authority has directed to request to the PMDC to take punitive action against such hospitals/medical colleges in general and Arif Memorial Teaching Hospital and Rashid Latif Medical College, in particular, for not providing treatment to the poor patients as per PMDC regulations”, the letter reads.

Citing reason behind the move, the letter further reads that the Zohra had visited the Arif Memorial Teaching Hospital with complaint of Anuria disease.

According to the health experts, Anuria is the condition where the body produces too little urine, and if left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, anemia, platelet disorders etc.

The letter said the reason the woman was denied treatment was that no cardiologist or nephrologist was available on the day at the health facility.

Subsequently, it said, the patient was taken to the state-run mega teaching hospitals of the provincial capital, including Lahore General Hospital (LGH), Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and Jinnah Hospital, Lahore.

“The competent authority has observed that the private hospitals are required under PMDC regulations, 2012, to provide 50pc of the beds for the accommodation and consultation of the poor patients”, the letter reads.

However, private hospitals are not implementing the Council’s regulations in letter and spirit, the letter further says.

The Punjab authorities asked the PMDC to take action against the private hospitals in accordance with the CMIT’s inquiry report.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2017