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March 5, 2019

New physiotherapy unit at jail likely to prevent influential prisoners taking refuge at hospitals


March 5, 2019

The Central Jail Karachi now has its own physiotherapy unit inside the prison’s hospital – thanks to the superior courts, which had directed the prison authorities to establish such a unit so that prisoners requiring the physical therapy could be treated inside the jail instead of public or private hospitals in the city.

Many high-profile prisoners especially those facing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) inquiries such as Dr Asim Hussain and former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon had to be shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) as well as some private health facilities in the city on the complains of backache, requiring regular physiotherapy, due to which serious questions were being raised regarding lack of health facilities at the central prison as well as privileges enjoyed by the influential prisoners.

A team of senior professors from JPMC, including Head of Physiotherapy Department Dr Riaz Baig, Head of Orthopaedics Department Prof AR Jamali and Head of Neurosurgery Department Prof Raza Rizvi visited the physiotherapy unit established at the Central Jail Karachi and expressed satisfaction at the availability of necessary equipment at the unit.

“The physiotherapy unit at Central Jail Karachi has been established on court orders and some philanthropists have provided the basic equipment and machines required for performing physiotherapy,” explained Dr Baig.

The JPMC physiotherapy department head said he had suggested to the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the central prison of Karachi should have its own physiotherapy unit inside the jail hospital so that prisoners could be provided necessary therapy inside the jail instead of shifting them to public and private hospitals, which was not only a security risk but was also a cumbersome task for the jail and health officials.

“Under an arrangement made on the directives of court, two physiotherapists – one each from the Civil Hospital Karachi [CHK] and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre – will visit the prison hospital for 15 days on an alternate basis and perform therapies to the prisoners who are in need of physical therapy for the relief of their pain and other health conditions,” Dr Baig maintained.

He, however, suggested that the jail administration should hire at least two physiotherapists permanently, including a male and a female physiotherapist so that they could serve the prisoners without any hassle.

“The current arrangement of sending physiotherapists alternately from JPMC and CHK for every 15 days in a month is an ad hoc arrangement and this could not continue for very long,” Dr Baig said.

The JPMC neurosurgery department head, Dr Rizvi, also expressed satisfaction with the physiotherapy unit, saying that he visited the prison fortnightly and conducted OPD at the jail hospital where he had suggested physiotherapy sessions to various prisoners.

Prof Jamali said the establishment of a physiotherapy unit at the jail hospital was a welcoming move as it would benefit hundreds of prisoners who could not move to hospitals due to lack of resources and influence.

Thanking the JPMC professors for taking interest in the new health unit, central jail officials said the establishment of the physiotherapy unit had prevented them from the hassle of shifting prisoners to the hospitals and back to the prison on a daily basis as this practice not only required resources, including manpower and transportation, but was also a security risk for medical professionals and common patients.

At the moment, there are over 4,800 prisoners incarcerated at the Central Jail Karachi, of whom 25 per cent are convicted prisoners while the remaining are under-trial prisoners. A judge of an accountability court also visited the central jail and inspected the physiotherapy unit. He assured the jail authorities that he would help them fulfil their needs to provide better health facilities to the incarcerated prisoners.

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