PESHAWAR: A general surgeon suffered a head injury and fell unconscious when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health minister along with his guards allegedly thrashed him at Khyber Teaching Hospital on Tuesday.
The provincial minister, Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan, said he was attacked by the young doctors’ association, while a health department statement accused the surgeon of attacking the minister at the KTH where he was scheduled to attend a meeting about policy boards of medical teaching institutions.
The administration of the teaching hospital slapped a ban on the entry of assistant professor Dr Ziauddin Afridi into Khyber Medical College following the incident that also triggered doctors’ protest causing suspension of all services at the health facility.
Later, the chief minister ordered an inquiry into the entire episode that started after the arrival of National Health Task Force head Prof Nausherwan Burki, a close relative of Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the hospital.
CM orders inquiry, doctors suspend services after reported clash at Khyber Teaching Hospital
Dr Afridi, assistant professor at the KTH surgical ward, told the media that he was “intercepted by health minister Hisham Inamullah Khan, his adviser Dr Jawad Wasif, several armed guards and policemen. The minister started abusing me, tried to hit me twice but I stopped him. His guards began beating me with butts of guns”.
He said he pleaded them to stop but they didn’t listen and ultimately he fell unconscious and was taken to the operating theatre.
Just an hour before the incident, Dr Afridi came to a meeting being chaired by Prof Burki and attempted to share his grievances against the administration for not promoting him to the position of associate professor at Khyber Medical College. However, all of a sudden he threw eggs at Prof Burki and was subsequently taken out of the conference by police.
An hour later the health minister arrived and held a meeting with the administration reportedly at the request of Prof Burki, who has been coming to Pakistan from the US every month to bring reforms in the health sector since 2013.
Finally the surgeon met the health minister who showed his resentment over the incident, leading to exchange of hot words and physical bouts and kicks. The guards immediately came into action and beat up the surgeon, who was then taken to the operating theatre for head and neck injuries.
Sources said that Dr Afridi had long been complaining against denial of his promotion despite fulfilment of the criteria to the higher post. Officials said he lacked experience required for promotion.
Following the reported clash, doctors suspended services at all levels in protest against the health minister’s attitude. The protesting doctors also blocked traffic on University Road near Town police station.
Senior faculty members will hold a meeting on the issue on Wednesday.
A physician, who witnessed the clash, said the minister should have called Dr Afridi to the administration’s block to discuss the matter and termed the incident a bad omen for the healthcare institution. “It is also extremely bad according to our traditions to throw eggs at an old man who is here to reform the health sector,” he said.
The KTH administration said that they had started investigating the incident and the doctor had attacked the minister.
Meanwhile, the chief minister took notice of the incident and ordered inquiry. Hospital administration later banned Dr Afridi from entering the Khyber Medical College.
An official at the Town police station said none of the doctors had approached them for registration of an FIR.
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2019