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LAHORE: The Punjab government has ordered action against two senior professors, including a council member of the College of Physicians Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP), under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (Peeda) Act 2006 for making foreign trips without seeking approval from authorities concerned.

The action has been ordered against senior medics Professor of Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr Rizwana Chaudhri and her husband Professor of Medicine Dr Mutti Ullah Mutti.

At present, both the senior medics are posted at the Dera Ghazi Khan Medical College.

It is said to be the first initiative of its kind in which the authorities have dug up facts about the “foreign tours” of senior medical health professionals while remaining “on official duties”.

Frequent foreign trips without seeking approval

An official privy to the development said that provincial authorities were expanding the scope of investigation on the basis of some information that it may be `a new medical tourism scam’ as more such cases are likely to surface.

According to documents available with Dawn, the action was proposed against Prof Rizwana and Prof Mutti for making 17 and 15 foreign tours, respectively, without seeking prior approval from authorities concerned.

The allegations leveled against the couple were proved when the FIA provided their record to the investigation team.

The documents said the chief minister had accorded approval for action after finding ‘sufficient grounds” to proceed against them under section 3 of the Peeda Act 2006.

“While working at the Rawalpindi Medical College, Prof Dr Rizwana Chaudhri proceeded abroad 17 times from Jan 2013 till now without seeking approval from any competent authority, according to details provided by the assistant director reporting, FIA headquarters Islamabad,” the document reads.

On similar grounds, the CM ordered action against Prof Mutti for making foreign tours 15 times since January 2013.

On the direction of the chief minister, Communications and Works Department Secretary Muhammad Mushtaq Ahmad has been appointed as an inquiry officer to proceed against Prof Rizwana under section 5 (1) (b) read with section 9 (1) (a) of the act.

A section officer of the Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department has been appointed as departmental representative.

Punjab Board of Revenue member judicial (V) and Chief Settlement Commissioner Muhammad Saqib Aziz has been appointed as an inquiry officer to proceed against Prof Dr Mutti.

The documents say the couple have been directed to appear before their respective inquiry officers with written defence within a week of the receipt of the orders or else it shall be presumed that either they have nothing in their defence or have accepted the charges.

Meanwhile, the government also ordered action against five more senior medics of the Lahore General and Jinnah hospitals in a separate case of patient Zohra Bibi’s death on the floor of the Jinnah Hospital on Jan 2, 2017, death due to their negligence.

They action was ordered against Dr Zaffar Iqbal, Professor of Medicine at the Jinnah Hospital; Dr Jawad Zaheer and Dr Tanveerul Islam, professors of medicine at the LGH; Dr Zafar Yusuf, the medical superintendent at the Jinnah Hospital and Dr Rasheed Ahmad, senior registrar of the same hospital.

They would be proceeded against under the Peeda Act 2006.

The Chief Minister Inspection Team had conducted an inquiry into the incident to fix responsibility for the negligence that caused Zohra’s death.

The probe committee submitted its preliminary report holding five officials responsible for the incident. The committee recommended action against them under the Peeda Act 2006.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017