LAHORE:The University of Health Sciences (UHS), on Monday, started a Certificate in Medico-legal Examination, the first-ever certification course of its kind in the country, focusing on the domains of forensic medicine and medical jurisprudence and intending to enhance the competent, ethical, and professional practice as a medico-legal expert.
The medico-legal process refers to the physical examination at a mandated health facility of victims of unnatural death or injury, possibly involving criminality, that could have legal repercussions. From assault to accidents to suspected homicide, and everything in between, the first step of the investigation is the medical examination that puts on record the victim’s injuries.
This course has been initiated in response to an order from the Lahore High Court (LHC), issued last year, urging the Punjab government to improve the qualification of examiners for medico-legal cases.
The court had directed both, primary & secondary healthcare and specialised healthcare & medical education departments to ensure that medical examiners meet the minimum qualification threshold and no unqualified and inexperienced doctor be posted to perform such crucial and sensitive job.
This course is the outcome of a collaborative effort involving the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department (P&SHC), Health Information & Service Delivery Unit (HISDU), Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA), and UHS.
The curriculum, meticulously crafted under the guidance of the UHS Vice-Chancellor, adheres to international best practices.
The course itself is modular, spanning one month, and is designed as a hands-on training programme. It aims to provide practical training experiences to Medical Officers (MOs), Women Medical Officers (WMOs), and Dental Surgeons hailing from various regions of Punjab. Training encompasses a wide range of subjects, including Toxicology, Traumatology, Autopsy, Medical Law, Ethics, Medico-legal Report Writing, Identification, Sample Handling, Preservation, and Electronic Data Management. The training sites include the Forensic Medicine Department at Jinnah Campus UHS, Services Hospital Lahore, Jinnah Hospital Lahore, Lahore General Hospital, and PFSA.
With the involvement of over 20 subject experts, this project seeks to train approximately 400 candidates in batches of 40 per month over a span of two years. Participants will be required to complete logbook assignments and submit portfolios for assessment during the certification examination.
Addressing at the inaugural session, UHS VC Prof Ahsan Waheed Rathore, appreciated the efforts of the whole team. He emphasised the critical need for this course, particularly in situations involving the provision of medicolegal opinions for identifying disaster victims, investigating allegations of sexual and physical assault, and addressing issues of drug misuse and abuse.
Prof Rathore reviewed the course curriculum, which has garnered validation from expert academicians. He said that the opinion of a medical examiner is not only relevant but also most pivotal in the criminal justice system and at times it plays a decisive role coupled with other evidence. UHS designated focal person for the course, Prof Sarah Ghafoor, informed that the course's development involved extensive consultations with subject matter experts.