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December 3, 2018

Rs10 bn not available for dam…: Rs34 bn spent on PKLI where no patient treated so far, says CJP

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December 3, 2018

LAHORE: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, on Sunday expressed serious concerns over non-treatment of children awaiting liver transplant at the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI), Lahore. He remarked that Rs34 billion of taxpayers’ money had been spent on what claimed to be ‘state-of-the-art institution’ but still children’s lives are at stake.

A two-judge special bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing of a matter pertaining to setting up of the first paediatric liver transplant section at the PKLI. Justice Ijazul Ahsan was the other member on the bench. As the hearing commenced, Dr Jawad Sajid, the head of PKLI, stated that the children’s liver transplant procedure was not possible currently as the institution lacked expert doctors for the purpose. To it, the CJ remarked: “We will have to renege on our promise (of early start of children’s liver transplantation) made with the nation.

“But we cannot risk the lives of children awaiting treatment. If they don’t get timely treatment, God forbid, they might die. The top priority of the court is to get them treated to save their lives.”

The CJP regretted that despite the passage of 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, we could not provide medical facilities to our children. “If India can do so, why can’t we,” asked the chief justice. He said it was a collective responsibility of doctor community to launch an awareness campaign for liver transplant procedure.

“I could not collect Rs10 billion for dams’ construction, but Rs34 billion were wasted on the PKLI and, in return, people got no treatment facilities there so far,” the CJ regretted. He asked Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Awais as to why the matter had not been referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The AG replied that the government was pondering over sending the matter to NAB.

However, Dr Jawad Sajid told the court that state-of-the-art facilities were available at the PKLI for adults’ transplantation, but it lacked medical experts to conduct surgeries. He added that there was no possibility of immediate hiring of foreign qualified doctors. He pointed out that liver transplant of adults was likely to be started in June, but gave no such deadline for minors’ transplantation.

Dr Huma Arshad, a child specialist, told the court that she had been striving for two decades for provision of liver transplantation facility to child patients. When she went to the PKLI for the purpose, former head Dr Saeed Akhtar not only discouraged her but also admonished her.

The CJP called Dr Saeed Akhtar to rostrum and reminded him that a vilification campaign was launched against the SC on the social media when the court asked certain questions from him about the PKLI project.

To a court query, Dr Saeed said that former chief minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif had floated the idea of PKLI after he got treatment at a hospital in New York. The CJP responded that he knew why the idea was floated, adding that an overseas doctor, Khalid Sharif, was ready to render his services, but the biggest problem is lack of facilities for children’s surgery. The court adjourned hearing till Monday(today) after directing the PKLI officials to come up with some viable solution to save the lives of children awaiting transplantation.

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