LAHORE: After the retirement of Prof Dr Nadeem Hayat Mallick as chief executive officer of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, on Monday, six senior and eminent cardiologists/cardiac surgeons of the province have emerged as potential candidates for the top slot of one of the best public sector cardiac institutes of the country.

Prof Mallick who served as the PIC head for more than four years, retired on Monday. The 500-bed institute which has the largest emergency (200 beds) in Punjab, is the only public sector specialised facility for the cardiac patients in Lahore.

The appointment of new chief executive officer (CEO) of the PIC on merit and without any pressure and political consideration was a big challenge for the authorities concerned in the Punjab government, an official told Dawn.

He said the PIC still lacked a system for provision of timely cardiac treatment to the poor patients because of a culture of preferring ‘paying patients’. The long waiting list and appointment time of years to the poor patients had been a major issue that was never addressed at the PIC, he added.

After retirement of Prof Mallick, many cardiologists/cardiac surgeons had geared up efforts to clinch the important slot, he said. However, he said, the combined seniority list of cardiologists/cardiac surgeons serving in the public sector teaching institutions of the province had left the government with a little choice to fill the slot.

On the basis of seniority and merit, the official said, professor of cardiology and head of the cardiac unit of Allama Iqbal Medical College/Jinnah Hospital Lahore Prof Dr Zubair Akram was on top of the list.

Professor of cardiology at the Multan Institute of Cardiology, Dr Ijaz Ahmad, had the second position, followed by professor of cardiac surgery of the King Edward Medical University, Prof Raja Pervez Akhtar.

He said Prof Zubair served at the PIC Lahore for 14 consecutive years and upon his transfer and promotion as professor he was appointed as AIMC cardiology head in 2005, where he is still serving.

About Prof Ijaz, he said, he might not be a potential candidate for the PIC top slot as he had only six month left before his retirement.

However, the official said, Prof Raja Pervez was the second best choice for the government as he had served as Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology head for five year consecutively.

Prof Saqib Shafi, who was fourth on the combined seniority list, could face hurdles in getting picked for the slot as he had been named in the unregistered cardiac stent scam that surfaced in 2017.

Professor of cardiac surgery Dr Zafar Tufail from PIC Lahore, is fifth on the list, followed by FIC Prof Anjum Jalal (6th), professor of cardiac surgery at PIC Lahore, Prof Aftab Younis (7th) and professor of cardiac surgery at AIMC, Dr Tayyab Pasha (8th).

Similarly, two other senior medics -- professor of cardiology at PIC, Dr Shahid Hameed and professor of cardiology at FIC, Dr Liaqat Ali, were on 9th and 10th position on the combined seniority list.

The five-member selection committee notified in March 2019 was likely to pick from these cardiac experts a suitable professional for the PIC top slot, the official said.

The committee was notified after Punjab chief minister’s approval, having the mandate for the selection of the heads of medical colleges and teaching and specialised health care institutes.

The official said the appointment of heads of the public sector teaching institutions had mostly been sparking controversies during the previous (PML-N) as well as the present governments because junior medics were given preference to their seniors.

The selection committee, he said, would initiate the process for selection of the PIC head in the coming week with Punjab health minister in the chair.

The other committee members include health secretary Saqib Zafar, University of Health Sciences Lahore Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Javed Akram, former AIMC principal Prof Mehmood Shaukat and retired professor of surgery Dr Javed Raza Gardezi.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2019