SC takes notice of increasing breast cancer cases, summons federal and provincial health secretaries

Published November 2, 2021
A file photo of Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed. — APP/File
A file photo of Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed. — APP/File

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday took notice of increasing breast cancer cases in the country and summoned the federal and provincial health secretaries in the next hearing.

Hearing the matter after taking notice of the growing number of breast cancer patients, a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed resented that no government hospital had the facilities of mammography, breast cancer treatment or tools for detection of the disease.

The chief justice noted that most of the women were not able to afford costly treatment of the disease.

Expressing dismay over the lack of treatment mechanism, Justice Ahmed directed authorities to induct women in panels of specialists treating the disease and also called for segregation of women patients at hospitals.

The top court adjourned the hearing for a month after issuing summons to the federal and provincial health secretaries.

Breast cancer mortality rates in Pakistan are said to be the highest in Asia. The extent of its prevalence can be gauged by the fact that at least 90,000 new cases are diagnosed every year in the country and, annually, some 40,000 women succumb to it.

Last month, the chief justice had inaugurated the building of the Pink Ribbon Hospital, the first-ever dedicated breast cancer hospital not only in Pakistan but worldwide.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Ahmed had questioned how the deaths of over 40,000 women due to breast cancer each year could be neglected. He said every institute and department should seriously consider this matter and establish breast cancer hospitals and clinics in every city of the country as early diagnosis and right treatment was a must for survival.

SC berates Faisalabad commissioner

Meanwhile, while hearing a separate case, the Supreme Court expressed resentment at the Faisalabad commissioner for his alleged failure to share the master plan of the city with the top court, saying there was little room for infrastructural improvement due to the neglect of authorities.

Led by Chief Justice Ahmed, the two-member bench that had taken up a case regarding encroachments in Faisalabad noted that the situation had been taken to a point where even building a gutter was not possible.

The top judge inquired from the Faisalabad commissioner about action taken by him to clear encroachments.

"Sir, give me some more time," the commissioner requested, to which the chief justice responded: "You have been taking time all your life."

Justice Ahmed also berated the commissioner for "not being able to make a map for four years".

He said Google had made it easier to browse different locations with maps, as "drone-assisted aerial images show every house clearly".

He also asked the commissioner whether he was solely relying on a private consultant to do the job.

Turning to the director-general of the Faisalabad Development Authority (FDA), Justice Ahmed asked, "Do you have anything in mind?"

The chief justice said the current situation didn't allow building gutters and questioned whether the authorities expected the Japan International Cooperation Agency to do that job as well.

"I don't know where the country has been taken," he said.

He remarked that the town planners had left the country for Canada and Europe.

Later, the Supreme Court also sought details of parks and playgrounds in Faisalabad and ordered authorities to plant trees and provide facilities in abandoned government parks.

The hearing was adjourned for a month.

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