LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Saturday expressed its serious dismay after being told that the Pakistan Kidney-Liver Transplantation Institute (PKLI), a highly acclaimed project of the previous government, lacked even basic facilities to carry out pediatric liver transplant.

The institute did not have prerequisites like operation theatre, human resource and equipment for the liver transplant, Prof Dr Huma Arshad Cheema of the Children Hospital, also chairperson of Pakistan Pediatric Association Gastroenterology Hepatology, told the court.

A two-judge special bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a matter regarding possibility of first pediatric liver transplant in Pakistan at the PKLI.

The chief justice observed that billions of rupees had been spent on the institute and now it was being stated that it had no facilities. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, other member of the bench, said the institute should have been a state of the art project but it appeared to be a godown.

The judges lamented that no effort had been made for the children suffering from liver diseases. They said Pakistani children were forced to go to India for a liver transplant after undergoing an embarrassing process of getting visa for the neighbouring country.

Even liver transplant facilities available for adults were also not up to the mark, the chief justice regretted.

He pointed out there was a campaign on social media against the court when it grilled PKLI president Dr Saeed Akhtar, for the poor performance of the institute.

Prof Cheema told the bench that the staff of Dr Akhtar had told her, when she went to see him, that he was not interested in meeting doctors living in Pakistan.

The CJP observed it was a wish of the Supreme Court to have the first-ever pediatric liver transplant surgery in Pakistan before the last week of December.

Prof Cheema stated that no civilian healthcare facility was capable of performing pediatric liver transplant. However, she said, a hospital in Rawalpindi run by military had been carrying out such surgeries.

At this, the chief justice said the court would establish contact with the Surgeon General of the Pakistan Army for this purpose and adjourned hearing till Sunday (today).

The chief justice also directed the NAB to hold an inquiry against an administration officer of the PKLI, Dr Amir, and also put his name on the exit control list (ECL). The officer earlier told the court that he was getting Rs1.2 million as monthly salary.

WATER TREATMENT PLANTS: The Supreme Court directed Punjab Minister for Housing and Urban Development Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed to submit progress report about a meeting of a committee formed to decide release of funds for four water treatment plants in the city.

Heading a two-judge bench, the chief justice expressed concern over delay in completion of the projects and directed the minister that the court wanted results.

Earlier, Punjab Advocate General Ahmad Awais told the bench that the government had constituted a committee to oversee funds issues in the construction of four water treatment plants at Shahdara, Shadbagh, Babu Sabu and Mehmood Booti.

The minister stated the government had to assess the feasibility of the projects as billion of rupees were required for their completion.

“It means that you want to start everything from the very beginning,” Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the minister.

Chief Justice Nisar observed that the matter of adulterated water was of public importance and the court would not allow the government to scrap it.

“The government might have experience of a few months but we have been sitting here for the last 21 years. And we know how funds are released for projects,” the chief justice told the minister.

The CJP directed the minister to also accompany the Punjab chief minister to Islamabad as the court could summon him on the next hearing to be held on Dec 5.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018

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