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July 11, 2018
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Peshawar Institute of Cardiology: Project remains a victim of neglect, delay

National

July 11, 2018

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PESHAWAR: While there was hope that the much-delayed Peshawar Institute of Cardiology (PIC) may finally see the light of the day, the recent orders of the chief justice of Pakistan have thrown another spanner in the work.

The foundation stone for the PIC was laid way back in 2005. Since then, it has been progressing at a snail’s pace.

The project directors for the PIC up to 2015 were Professor Dr Mohammad Hafizullah and Professor Dr Riaz Anwar. The two have not been able to explain the long delay in getting the project functional.

Rather than setting up an inquiry into the delays and apparent shortcomings in the building of the project, it seems that one of the ex-project directors has been rewarded by the caretaker government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by making him a member of the board of governors (BoG) for the PIC.

Taking note of the long delay in execution of the PIC, the PTI government had formed a BoG for it in 2017. It included Dr Nausherwan Burki, the de facto health advisor to the then Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The BoG included Prof Waheed Ahmed Sahibzada, the father of cardiology in the province.

Last month, in a surprising decision by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar, the BoG for the PIC was dissolved along with boards for other Medical Teaching Institutions (MTIs) in the province. He took the suo moto action on an application received by the court’s Human Rights Cell.

The interesting thing is that the application on which suo moto hearings were conducted was in relation to the Ayub Teaching Hospital and later on expanded to include Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex. No mention was made during the proceedings of any other MTI, particularly the PIC.

However, the CJP in his order on June 6 dissolved all the boards for the MTIs. The legal fraternity is wondering as to how BoGs of those hospitals were dissolved which were not respondents at all in the human rights case number 18879-K of 2018.

The members of the former BoGs of Nowshera Medical College, Mardan Medical Complex and the Peshawar Institute of Cardiology have been left wondering as to how their boards have been dissolved without citing reasons and levelling specific charges.

During the hearing of the proceedings in the case, the then chairman of the BoG of Ayub Medical Complex had infamously said that he did not deem the hospital fit to have his dog operated upon. It was questioned then as to why this particular gentleman, a retired general from the Army Medical Corps, did not tender resignation if he was helpless to rectify the situation.

It is most surprising that only one person from amongst all the dissolved BoGs has been retained in the new boards formed by the government. And this is none other than Mohammad Asif Khan under whose supervision his hospital’s operation theatre was not fit to have his dog treated. He had made the very admission in the court.

Most in the medical community believe that the nominations for the new boards lacked transparency. They believe the scheme is to undermine reform agenda pursued in the last five years. Some old hands from the Health Department have been nominated who are believed to be unsuitable for the job.

A former secretary health has been named as member of one of the boards. It is known that during his tenure as secretary health he tried his best to undermine the MTI Act and the reforms.

The PIC board had Prof Sahibzada Waheed as its member. He is known as a man of character and excellent qualifications. It is surprising that such a man has been excluded from the board for the PIC. Contrast this with Prof Hafizullah who has been appointed as the new member and got himself named chairman of the board for PIC.

Prof Hafizullah is not particularly liked in the wider medical community in general and cardiology circles in Peshawar in particular.

The local cardiologists, most of whom trained under him, blame poor development of cardiology field in the province on him. They allege that during his time as head of Cardiology at the Lady Reading Hospital, he tried his best to prevent Hayatabad Medical Complex from opening up the second public service angioplasty service in the province. They allege that he is motivated by self-glorification and projection only.

Prof Hafizullah was the project director for the PIC from 2005 to 2015. It was on his watch that the project was delayed by years. He has been trying to get into the PIC project for the last couple of years.

A senior bureaucrat, on the condition of anonymity, told this scribe that Prof Hafizullah’s name was not on the list sent to the chief minister. It was inserted by the chief minister himself. It seems that destiny and his friend, the chief minister, may have given him a chance to redeem himself.

For the sake of the people of the province, it is hoped that Prof Dr Hafizullah will try to prove his critics wrong by making PIC an example of his services to the province.

If he is indeed sincere with the people, he would try to make PIC a model heart hospital. If he is able to achieve this, he will forever shut his critics up.

One outside cardiologist this scribe spoke to said that regardless of what everybody else says, Hafizullah is a ‘doer’. Let us see who is proven right in the end.

Meanwhile, questions remain on the Supreme Court’s order dated June 6, 2018 in the case of matters relating to the Ayub Medical Complex.

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