Crisis in the making: Endangered messiahs

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 10:00:11 by


The point-blank shooting of a Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) physician on Sunday night is the latest calamity in the unyielding threats faced by doctors in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Both doctors and their relatives have been targeted in the past. Incidents of kidnapping have also become frequent, forcing doctors to re-examine their options and resettle elsewhere. Already some doctors have left their homes and have found jobs in either another province or another country altogether. Hospitals and teaching institutions have been left poorer as a result. Their exodus will create a vacuum in the health industry.

Rheumatologist Dr Amjad Taqweem, the head of Medical ‘C’ Ward at LRH, was on his way home after offering Isha prayers at a nearby mosque, when he was abducted from Hayatabad Phase VII.

“Dr Taqweem was a medalist and one of the best rheumatologists in the province. His services are desperately needed,” said Dr Alamgir Yousafzai, president of the Young Doctors Association (YDA), while talking to The Express Tribune.

Leaving their homeland

The brother of a physician, Dr Shakir, was killed by unknown men in Dabgari Garden when the kidnappers attacked Dr Shakir. After the killing of his brother, Dr Shakir shifted with his family to Dubai. As for the ENT specialist Dr Bukhari, he moved to England after receiving threats.

According to Dr Fahim, (name changed), a senior doctor familiar with the situation, the former chief executive of Saidu Medical College also shifted to Saudi Arabia after receiving threats from kidnappers. He added that recently Dr Nafees Ahmad and Dr Maaz Khan of KTH had also shifted to the US. And around 60 senior doctors of three teaching hospitals are planning to shift abroad along with their families.

“A majority of them are senior doctors who are working as professors and associate professors at the medical college of the province.  It will not only create a vacuum but we will also lose senior teachers,” he said.

“A medical specialist who arrived from abroad to serve his people was quick to go back when the kidnappers set him free after ransom was paid. Over 400 doctors have been in constant fear, forcing them to limit their activities both at medical colleges and clinics. This has affected the students and patients,” Dr Yousafzai said.

According to Dr Musa Kaleem, provincial president of the Health Employees Coordination Council (HECC), the government has failed to provide security to the community of doctors. “A sense of insecurity prevails in the doctors’ community. Most of them are trying to leave the country as soon as possible.”

He complained that if the doctors are not provided security, they cannot be expected to provide treatment to the patients. Dr Kaleem demanded that “the government should ensure the immediate release of the kidnapped doctors, along with providing security to the doctors inside and outside the hospital premises.”

Kidnapped – names and numbers

“Twelve senior doctors have been kidnapped for ransom. Ten of them have been released after the payment of ransom in the past two years,” shared Dr Fahim. He added that most of the doctors have been kidnapped from Hayatabad and are believed to have been taken to the nearby Khyber Agency. In his opinion, the government is still not taking this issue seriously.

He shared some names and details which are as under:

• Dr Intikhab Alam, senior professor and head of Medical ‘A’ unit in Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), was kidnapped in October 2010. He was released after a payment of Rs 7 million a month later.

• Dr Sohail Ahmad of KTH was kidnapped in February 2013 and released after a payment of Rs 10 million.

• The son of Dr Maraj was also kidnapped the same month; and his family paid high ransom to the kidnappers for his release.

• Dr Inshaullah was kidnapped from FR-Bannu in July 2013

• Dr Kachkol was kidnapped from Bajaur Agency and paid Rs 4.5 million as ransom

• Dr Ilyas was kidnapped in April

• Dr Ayaz Khan, an Orthopedic surgeon in KTH, and four house job doctors were kidnapped from FR-Lakki Marwat who paid a heavy ransom

•  Dr Ameer Kamran of North West hospital was kidnapped two months ago and was released after a payment of Rs 11m as ransom.

Two doctors are still in the captivity of the kidnappers, namely Dr Mujahid Bangash and Dr Amjad Taqweem.

Losing lives

Dr Fahim shared that four doctors and the brother of a doctor have been killed so far.

He said that the four doctors killed are Dr Syed Jamal who was kidnapped in 2012 and then killed in Khyber Agency, Dr Shah Nawaz who was killed in April 2013 in Dabgari Garden, Dr Shukat Ali who was killed in Hayatabad in October 2013 and Dr Junaid who was also killed in front of LRH in Hayatabad in 2012.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2013.

Peshawar News Sources -2

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