LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday directed Shaikh Zayed Hospital (SZH) to meet minimum standards set by the Human Organ Transplant Authority (HOTA) for the reopening of its liver transplant centre within a month.

The CJP had taken suo motu notice on a news report in Dawn regarding closure of the hospital’s transplant centre since January following a restriction imposed by HOTA due to deaths of two donors.

Punjab Health Minister Khwaja Salman Rafique, Chief Secretary retired Capt Zahid Saeed, Health Secretary Najam Shah, SZH Chairman Dr Kamran Hussain and former HOTA director general Dr Faisal Masood appeared before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on a short notice.

Dr Masood told the court that two young healthy donors as well as 13 recipients had lost their lives since 2015 during liver transplants at the centre. This percentage of casualties was twice more than international standards.

He pointed out that in one of the cases the hospital management had not informed the HOTA and the authority came to know about the death of the donor through its own monitoring system. He said the transplant centre had not been following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the authority.

The CJP regretted that the condition of health sector in all provinces was unsatisfactory. He said he was disappointed after seeing unhygienic conditions of operating theatres at Ayub Hospital in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The situation in Punjab was also similar, he added.

In a dialogue with the health minister, CJP Nisar said, “You are the leader and you are supposed to run the country, not us. And the court would not tolerate unfair appointments.”

He adjourned the matter and directed the government and SZH chairman to do the needful to meet minimum requirements set by HOTA within a month.

Moreover, the CJP heard a suo motu case against massive salaries of doctors and staff at Pakistan Kidney Liver Institute (PKLI) and visited the institute along with the health minister and other officials.

During the hearing, Medical Director Dr Amiryar Khan appeared before the court and stated that the institute’s Chairman Prof Dr Saeed Akhtar had gone to perform Umrah. Responding to the court’s queries, Dr Khan stated that Dr Akhtar had been drawing Rs1.2 million, while the salary of his wife, an anaesthetist at the same institute, was Rs800,000.

CJP Nisar asked the chief secretary whether senior-most professors working in government hospitals enjoyed the same salary package.

The chief secretary responded in the negative, however, added that the doctors working at public hospitals were allowed to practice privately. But the doctors appointed at the PKLI could not do so, he added, while justifying the excessive salaries being given to the institute.

The chief justice directed the chief secretary to submit complete salary structure of the entire staff of the PKLI.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2018

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