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Islamabad

January 11, 2015

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Newborn child kidnapped from PIMS

Islamabad
At a point in time when the security of educational institutions and hospitals is stated to have been reinforced to tackle growing acts of terrorism, an unidentified woman clad in a white ‘hijab’ allegedly kidnapped a newborn child from the Children’s Hospital of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) here on Saturday, in what is being described as a major security and administrative lapse.
While an FIR has been registered against the unidentified woman, the child’s family has given a 24-hour deadline for the hospital administration to recover the kidnapped baby. The hospital administration has typically formed a four-member fact-finding committee which consists of pro-vice chancellor of the Shaheed Zuliqar Ali Bhutto (SZAB) Medical University-PIMS, Abid Farooqi, the head of the MCH Centre Zahid Larik, the security in-charge, and MNA Tariq Fazal Cahudhry.
Sharing details with this scribe, the VC of SZAB Medical Univerity-PIMS Dr. Javed Akram said, the kidnapped child was born on Thursday, and was named Shazia. “A woman who had concealed her face under a white ‘hijab’ allegedly developed friendship with the family of the kidnapped child. Early this morning, she offered some juice, with a sedative mixed into it, to the mother and aunt of the kidnapped child, and the moment they lost consciousness, she managed to flee with the child,” Professor Akram maintained. The child’s parents are residents of Karak.
The kidnapping incident is not the least shocking. This is not the first time that a newborn child has been kidnapped from a public sector hospital. Talking specifically of PIMS, the hospital has, even on numerous occasions in the past, miserably failed to protect its own doctors and nurses, as well as patients and their attendants, from acts of physical violence. The kidnapping of a one-day old child, who can neither protest nor fight back, comes as no surprise. In spite of repeated demands for improved

security, no noteworthy measures have thus far been instituted to check such incidents.
The Children’s Hospital at PIMS particularly offers a highly enabling environment for child kidnappers. The hospital neither has female guards to conduct body search of women visitors and attendants, nor any close-circuit security cameras or trained security guards. Since this is not the first incident of its kind, one would have expected the city’s largest tertiary care hospital to have instituted a counseling mechanism so that parents are guided not to leave their children unattended, or to trust strangers. Even that does not exist.
The incident is also being described as an example of acute mismanagement and administrative failure. Inter-departmental infighting at SZAB Medical University-PIMS, which continues to this day, must be brought to a grinding halt, failing which patient care will continue to be compromised. From the way PIMS is currently being managed, there can be no end to harrowing tales of medical neglect. The authorities at the helm of affairs have become so immune to such events that they have ceased to feel the pain of patients. Only a fortnight ago, a small child who was in need of ventilaory support was sent away by because the only two ventilators available in the Children’s Hospital were occupied. Loss of precious time resulted in the child’s death.
The formation of inquiry committees is a cosmetic measure; its findings can never pacify a mother whose newborn ends up being kidnapped from premises that is supposed to be safe and secure, or for a mother who rushed her child to the city’s largest hospital, only to be told that it does not have a ventilator to save his life.
It is learnt that the MCH Centre of PIMS is one of the most aspired working places for nurses, ‘ayas,’ and security staff because no other department within the hospital offers as grand an opportunity to make quick bucks. “Every now and then, the nurses, ‘ayas’ and security guards of this centre allegedly hand over to the attendants of patients, unsigned chits with a demand for various pharmacy products, which they reportedly sell at the pharmacy. There is no one to question them,” a reliable hospital source confided.
When Professor Akram was questioned, he assured that female guards will be deputed for body search of women visitors with effect from Monday. He said the hospital’s security has already been beefed up. Professor Akram maintained that the hospital has also advertised procurement of 110 web-based cameras. Professor Tariq Iqbal, who is the head of the Burn Centre, has been tasked to ensure that cameras are installed in the MCH Centre within a week’s time.
Why did it take so long for PIMS to take such basic security measures? What value can beefed up security have for a mother who has been robbed of the joy of holding and caressing her newborn? What untold secrets will the fact-finding committee reveal in its report? Who will guarantee protection from criminal activities within hospital premises? Questions like the aforementioned are raised each time an unfortunate episode of this kind takes place, only to be forgotten the following day. Things will be no different this time around too.

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