ISLAMABAD: The inquiry report regarding sale of infectious waste by employees of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has recommended involving the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for further investigation.
The inquiry report was submitted by a three-member fact-finding committee, headed by professor of General Surgery Dr S.H. Waqar with directions to submit a report in 48 hours.
As many as three lower-grade officials have been suspended and the Ministry of Health has been requested to start proceedings under efficiency and discipline (E&D) rules against two officers of higher grades.
The matter regarding the contract of the company, which is responsible to collect and incinerate infectious waste, will be taken with the Punjab government as this same company is collecting waste in the health facilities of Punjab.
However, further payment to the second company, which is local and responsible for the collection of non-infectious waste, has been stopped.
Three lower-grade officers suspended
Dr Aziz Bangash has been given the responsibility to supervise the collection of infectious waste and incineration.
The executive director (ED) of Pims Dr Naeem Malik has claimed that he decided to show zero tolerance for corruption and will go to any extent to make the hospital and staff patient-friendly.
On Feb 27, a vendor hired by the Pims administration to incinerate medical waste on the hospital premises was found involved in the sale of infectious material, such as discarded syringes and blood bags along with hospital employees.
On March 1, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also took notice of this matter and issued directions for an independent inquiry to be conducted and for a report to be submitted within two days – instead of an internal inquiry.
Later, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on National Health Services also took notice of the matter.
A senior officer of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) said that initially all responsibility was put on a sanitation worker due to which, the hospital was directed to hold a transparent inquiry and send a report in which all responsible persons would be nominated and action against them would be suggested.
“Finally, the inquiry report has landed in the ministry and we will take appropriate action as per recommendations of the report,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to documents, Sanitary Inspector Shahid Khattak, Sanitary Assistant Mehboob Abbasi and a sanitary worker have been suspended.
An officer of Pims said that the inquiry committee looked into all possible angles and identified negligence of a number of officials and officers.
“The ministry has been requested to refer the matter to the FIA to start criminal investigation. While three officials have been suspended and the ministry has been requested to initiate inquiry under E&D Rules against senior officers who belong to the non medical cadre. The company responsible for collection of infectious waste, has also been doing the same job in Punjab so it has been recommended to write a letter to the Punjab government before starting the process of blacklisting it. Moreover, it has been decided to stop payments to another company which is responsible for collecting non-infectious waste,” he said.
“Now the ball is in the court of the ministry and let us see if it takes any further action or dumps the issue,” he added.
Spokesperson for Pims Dr Haider Abbasi said that on Tuesday, Special Secretary (Health) Mirza Nasirud Din Mashhood also visited the hospital and observed the process of waste collection and incineration.
“ED has shown his commitment to address all issues of the hospital and has directed Dr Aziz Bangash to monitor the process of waste collection. Prof Malik has said that he will show zero tolerance towards corruption,” he said.
It is worth mentioning that hospital waste can become the reason for infections as they contain blood, human parts and sharp surgical instruments among other dangerous materials. Across the globe, incinerators are used to burn such waste. Ideally, an incinerator should have primary and secondary chambers to dispose of hospital waste and also process the smoke produced as a result.
Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2023
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