Monday September 25, 2023

PIMS’ joint executive director retires after 33-year service

By Our Correspondent
August 22, 2021

Islamabad : The Joint Executive Director (JED) of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Dr. Minhaj us Siraj honorably retired from service on Saturday after a 33-year illustrious career wherein he held key clinical, administrative and managerial positions in Pakistan’s health sector. The position has now been filled by Dr. Ejaz Qadeer, who has previously also worked as JED of the hospital in addition to being the country director of the Tuberculosis Control Programme.

Starting his professional career as an eye surgeon at PIMS, Dr. Minhaj quit 15 years of clinical work to switch over to hospital management, which he practiced and exceled over the next 18 years; this period included 10 years of Secretariat work involving administration, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of projects, patient-doctor relationship management, as well as financial discipline.

Dr. Minhaj took charge as Hospital Director and Joint Executive Director of PIMS in May 2020. Being the team lead for frontline healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through all four waves, Dr. Minhaj ramped up a 75-bed facility to 262 beds for Covid patients in just five days during the first wave, with a workable exit strategy that continues to be practiced in each successive wave.

Dr. Minhaj played a proactive role in keeping hospital services intact during the 72 days of staff protests against privatization of PIMS and the FMTI Ordinance. Moreover, he worked hard to clear, by the end of Financial Year 2020-21, all fiscal liabilities of the hospital that were pending since decades. He was also instrumental in obtaining PSDP clearance of mega projects for neurosurgery and ENT Departments. Additionally, departmental promotion cases that were pending since a decade for non-gazetted staff (BS 1-16)/DSB for senior staff (BS 17, 18 & 19) were successfully processed during his tenure.

Dr. Minhaj covered all legal and constitutional responsibilities of hospital management at PIMS during the transition phase between a federal government institute and an autonomous organization under FMTI. He contested all court cases against PIMS in person and secured relief for the organization with minimum pendency. He also established the Infection Prevention and Control Unit and PCR Lab at PIMS in collaboration with WHO.

Dr. Minhaj will be remembered for novel initiatives that he spearheaded in his capacity as Director of Tobacco Control in the Ministry of National Health Services from July 2019 to April 2020, and more importantly, as the Director of the Tobacco Smoke-Free Islamabad/Cities project from April 2014 onwards. He safeguarded legislation on manufacture, sale and use of tobacco products and monitored the implementation of tobacco control laws in Islamabad and 12 major districts, starting from Islamabad to Karachi. He developed the Smoke Free Cities’ Model which is now being replicated in 6 countries and which also won a WHO award on World No Tobacco Day 2021.

Dr. Minhaj also served as Country Focal Person for the imPACT Cancer Prevention and Control initiative led by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He drafted important policies and legislations such as the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance/Act, WHO protocols on illicit tobacco trade, and the National Policy for Polio Control (Injectable/ Trivalent Polio Vaccines), to name a few. He also developed the ‘Public Health Nurses’ Module, which was approved by the Pakistan Nursing Council in a single day.

His professional capabilities aside, Dr. Minhaj commanded enormous respect from colleagues and friends alike for his honesty, straight-forwardness, and discipline.