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Saturday April 13, 2024

Senior medical officer attempts suicide after ‘Rs1m demanded for his transfer’

By M. Waqar Bhatti
March 18, 2023

A senior medical officer of the Sindh health department, Dr Abdul Aziz Sodhar, tried to commit suicide after he was allegedly asked to pay one million rupees as a bribe for his transfer to his native town, Larkana, officials in the health department said on Friday.

Luckily, they said, Dr Sodhar survived and was undergoing going treatment at the Ohja Hospital of the Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi. “The incident took place on March 14 when Dr Abdul Aziz Sodhar consumed dozens of sleeping pills after he was asked to pay millions of rupees by Sindh health department officials,” an official of the health department said.

Following the suicide attempt, authorities suspended a section officer and constituted a committee to probe the matter, provincial health secretary Zulfiqar Shah said. “The health department has ordered an immediate inquiry to be carried out by the special secretary health Sindh to probe into the allegations levelled by Dr Abdul Aziz Sodhar related to officers of the provincial health department and to take action against all those who are found to be involved in in any unlawful activity.”

Altaf Agha, section officer at the health department, has been surrendered to the Services General Administration & Coordination Department (SGA&CD) until the inquiry is finalised, said Health Secretary Zulfiqar Shah.

He said Dr Sodhar, senior medical officer of BS-19, had been serving as medical superintendent at 25-bedded hospital at the Labour Square, District Malir, where he had applied for four months earned leave by providing the reason that his native village was facing a flood situation.

“His leave was granted by the SGA&CD in October 2022, and upon availing the leave, he reported back to the health department in January 2023 with the request that he may be posted to Chandka Hospital Larkana,” the health secretary said, adding that his request was moved accordingly and it was decided that he would be posted in Larkana, but in some other hospital where there was a shortage of doctors. Before such an order was to be issued, Dr Sodhar attempted suicide on March 14, 2023.

Shah said the administrator of the Ojha Hospital had been directed to provide all the possible medical assistance to Dr Sodhar so that he could recover quickly.

Furthermore, the department has undertaken to bear all the expenses on his medical treatment. On directives the minister for the health and population welfare department, the director general health services of Sindh visited the Ojha Hospital on Friday to inquire after Dr Sodhar’s health and assured him and his family of the department’s full support.

“Officials of the health department are in touch with Dr Sodhar’s family and he has been granted tree months’ leave (with pay) on 15.03.2023 so that his treatment is completed. Today, Dr Sodhar in person called the health department’s Official with the request to cancel his leave and to be posted at Karachi, which will be notified accordingly.”

Director General Health Dr Jumman Bahoto also visited the under treatment health official and assured him of complete support and cooperation, saying the health minister had taken the issue seriously and ordered an inquiry into the circumstances that led to such an extreme step by a senior health professional.