By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD – The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) had to withdraw derogatory words used for forensic staff at a meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee on National Health Services.
In response to a petition filed by the Pakistan Medical Association, Faisalabad; Young Doctors Association and Faisalabad’s Private Hospital Association et al., the PMDC submitted a written reply to the Senate’ standing committee, saying autopsy and postmortem are the main procedures in forensic examination.
“Postmortem should ideally be performed by a medical examiner but in Pakistan, it is performed by sweepers and bhungee (janitor) of the hospital,” PMDC stated in the reply.
Reacting sharply to the PMDC’s statement, Senator Farhatullah Babar of Pakistan People’s Party said that the statement makes him feel like a bhungee performed a postmortem on the late PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.
All over the world, people are moving towards specialization but in Pakistan, different subjects are being merged,” Babar wondered, saying he felt great pain when after the death of Benazir Bhutto, he was told that forensic experts would need to be called from the United Kingdom.
Senator Babar’s reaction prompted PMDC President to apologize for using the word bhungee for the staff conducting postmortem. The PMDC chief said he wanted to withdraw this word from the reply and use ‘assistant’ instead.
“However, the fact is that all over the country, there is a shortage of Medico Legal Officers (MLOs) and assistants perform all duties in the labs such as cleaning, sweeping the floors and even conducting postmortems,” he added.
PML-N’s Senator Kalsoom Parveen alleged that PMDC is no longer performing functions according to its mandate.
“My attempts at improving PMDC, over two years, all failed. Malik Mohammad Rafique Rajwana resigned as a member of the committee because PMDC was not ready to improve itself.”
Endorsing the sentiments expressed by the legislators, Standing Committee Chairman Sajjad Hussain Turi said: “The council members of the PMDC have been engaged in business activities, which results in a conflict of interest.”
The members of committee agreed to set up a sub-committee for holding meetings with the petitioners.
The medical associations in their petition had alleged that after the amendment in the PMDC’s rules in 2012, the representatives of private medical colleges and universities have outnumbered those of public sector institutions in the council.
Drawing the standing committee’s attention towards the council’s interest in merging the courses of forensic medicine and pathology, the petition pointed out that forensic medicine is used for crime investigation, particularly in establishing the cause of injury or death, whereas pathology is a science of the causes and effects of diseases and deals with the laboratory examination of samples of body tissues for diagnosis.