ISLAMABAD: An inquiry committee set up by the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) to probe the sale of infectious material outside the hospital has failed to make its report public despite the passage of a two-day deadline whereas the official who blew the whistle on this dangerous business is facing the wrath of the admin.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on National Health Services also took notice of the sale of infectious waste by the Pims employees and the vendor instead of disposing of it in the incinerator.

It is worth mentioning that on February 27, a vendor hired by the Pims administration to incinerate medical waste on the hospital premises was found involved in the sale of the infectious material, such as discarded syringes and blood bags, in cahoots with hospital employees.

Subsequently, Pims Executive Director Dr Naeem Malik had established a three-member fact-finding committee, headed by Prof of General Surgery Dr S.H. Waqar with direction to submit a report in 48 hours and also wrote a letter to the Islamabad IG for an FIR in the case.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also took notice of the sale of the infectious waste and directed an independent inquiry – to be submitted within two days – instead of an internal inquiry.

Whistleblower threatened

On the other hand, an inquiry committee summoned the whistleblower and warned him of severe consequences for exposing the risky business.

A senior official, requesting not to be named, told Dawn that the inquiry committee had summoned the whistleblower and asked why did he inform the police about the practice and shared the evidence with the media.

“The whistleblower was also told that he may lose his job as he was not authorised to share any evidence with the media,” he said. In response, the whistleblower apprised the committee that in 2018, a similar incident had occurred but it was swept under the carpet purportedly by the management, the official said, quoting the whistleblower. This time he called the police and shared the evidence with the media, the whistleblower was quoted as saying.

According to the official, the management, in the application sent to the IGP, has pinned the blame on a sanitary worker of the hospital for the sale of infectious waste.

Pims Spokesperson Dr Haider Abbasi told Dawn said that he was not aware if any committee member had threatened the whistleblower. When asked about the report, which had to be finalised within 48 hours, he said that he had contacted the committee head Dr Waqar who informed him that the report could take a day more to finalise.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2023

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