By Our Staff Reporter
Peshawar : Though the forensic medicine has a crucial role in evidence of biological aspect of crimes, there is just one medical college – Peshawar’s Khyber Medical College (KMC) – in the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where a full-fledged forensic and toxicology department has been functioning since 1990.
Ironically, KPK and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have lost innumerable lives in the acts of terrorism and violence since 2001 and yet the forensic medicine and toxicology that deals with the knowledge of medicines to help trace culprits and enforce law for administration of justice both in civil and criminal cases failed to attract attention of the province’s successive governments.
Commenting over the government’s lack of interest in setting up forensic medicine and toxicology departments in public sector medical colleges, a senior health expert deplored that in the present modern era where criminals are easily traced because of latest research and advancement in the field of forensic medicine and toxicology, we are still depending on the decade-old investigation system.
“We have qualified professionals in our province but they are losing interest due to lack of incentives in their field,” he said, adding that only the state’s patronage and financial incentives to the people well-versed with the subject could make it attractive and relevant.
He emphasized the need for developing the subject’s human resources, or else most of the doctors would prefer to switch over to other branches of medicine, instead of forensic medicine.
A former principal of the KMC was of the view that forensic medicine is considered as medicine of the “dead” with no financial benefits but extra inconvenience to present evidence at the court and hence it doesn’t attract people.
“In fact, the specialty in the subject regarded responsible, sensitive and unpleasant work,” he said, adding the only way to maintain and upgrade forensic services in the province and make the subject attractive for the newcomers is to introduce “forensic services allowance” for the doctors doing specialization in forensic medicine.
“It is the only specialty in which knowledge and expertise cannot be practiced privately. It involves risks to their lives and the lives of their families, especially in the current environment of terrorism,” he added.
He said special allowance on the pattern of “anaesthesia allowance” should be given in forensic medicine and toxicology to attract doctors, morticians, and auxiliary staff.
Experts were of the view that the KMC’s forensic medicine department could also be utilised for generating revenue by imparting forensic medicine’s education and its practical training to students of private medical colleges by charging some fee. The training is mandatory under the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) rules and necessary for the province as forensic medicine is the only state subject in the medical curriculum, they added.
They also suggested that the medico-legal work of all divisions and the hospitals should be handed over to the concerned medical colleges as it would enable the medico-legal officers to handle medico-legal cases and sexual assaults in their respective areas and in case of any difficulty refer them to the concerned medical college for expert opinion.
Forensic medicine and toxicology as subject existed at KMC since its inception in 1954, but a full-fledged department was set up in 1990.