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KARACHI: Provincial health department authorities have been directed to submit compliance reports about provision of medical facilities for malaria and skin diseases available to the prisoners incarcerated in the Central Jail, Karachi, it emerged on Friday.

The provincial health secretary and director of the Institute of Skin Diseases Karachi have been directed to furnish their respective reports to the Accountability Court-I, sources told Dawn.

The Accountability Court-I judge issued these directives on the reports submitted by the provincial health secretary, director general of the Institute of Skin Diseases and the medical officer of the Central Jail.

The judge took notice of growing number of applications by prisoners seeking treatment outside of jail

The judge had taken notice of the growing number of applications being filed by accused persons and undertrial suspects, who were detained in the central penitentiary in connection with graft-related cases, seeking the court’s permission to shift them to hospitals outside the prison, which lacked adequate diagnostic and treatment facilities.

The court had issued directives to the provincial home, prison and health department secretaries and others concerned to furnish details of the specialists visiting the prison, number of paramedical staff, diagnostic machines, medicines etc.

The sources said the secretary furnished a report on Aug 8, informing that in compliance with the court’s directives the health services director, Karachi division was asked to raise a medical team, comprising acting malaria superintendent, to visit the Central Jail immediately to take necessary measures against malaria ie collection of slides from the suspected jail inmates and examine the same on the spot and provide treatment/anti-malarial medicines to the positive cases without fail.

The secretary further instructed the director to also distribute impregnated bed nets to the affected patients in the prison, as per the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) criteria.

A separate report was filed on behalf of the health services director general, Hyderabad, who informed the Institute of Skin Diseases director to provide treatment facilities to the inmates for skin diseases in compliance with the court’s directives.

The senior medical officer of the Central Jail Karachi also submitted a report through the prison superintendent, showing the number of specialist doctors and nursing staff visiting the hospital inside the jail to examine the patients for different ailments.

The report showed that a general physician of the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) examined 35 patients during visits to the prison. It further showed that the dental surgeon during the visit examined 31 patients and the skin specialists examined 72 patients incarcerated in the penitentiary.

The report added that an ENT specialist treated 15 patients, cardiologist 44, sonologist six, eye specialist 48 and orthopaedic surgeon 30 inmates.

However, the MO’s report also mentioned the medical officer, nursing staff and the lab assistant, who specialised in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, but did not mention the number of any patient examined by the team during their visit to the prison.

Similarly, the report failed to mention whether any of the patients was treated by the visiting physiatrist.

But, the MO mentioned that Rasheed Baig, assistant physiotherapist of the Lyari General Hospital, had remained absent since March 6 while the visiting general physician of the LGH also remained absent since July 10.

Therefore, the judge called compliance reports from the health services secretary, government of Sindh, as well as the health services director about the examination of the prison inmates and provision of treatment/anti-malarial medicines to prisoners.

The court also called a report from the director of the Institute of Skin Diseases about compliance with its directives for provision of medical treatment facilities to the inmates.

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2018