Dying Man Not an Emergency for Doctors in Hangu

Apathy kills more recklessly than anything, and this happened in Hangu, Pakistan, last week, where doctors at the town’s government hospital didn’t pay any heed to the request of a critically ill patient for medical aid. Now the bereaved family wants those responsible for the death to be charged with murder.

Local newspapers reported the incident on June 21, informing that the patient, Torrub Ali, 55, was taken to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital of Hangu for medical examination and treatment. Ali was suffering from kidneys malfunction. To his and his family’s chagrin, none of the doctors on duty at the hospital would bother to even examine him. One medical officer, Dr. Nawab Hussain, was mentioned in particular by the affected family as responsible for refusing to see Ali and making excuses to shoo him away.

Given the attitude of the doctors at the hospital, the patient’s family requested the international organization Medecins Sans Frontieres—aka Doctors Without Borders—which has taken control of the hospital’s emergency department for some years. But they too refused on the basis that they don’t consider kidney failure as emergency but only cases of violent crimes (terrorism, shooting, etc.) and deadly road accidents qualify for this category of patients. Left helpless, Ali’s family requested the hospital’s Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr. Abdul Rasheed to allow them using the hospital’s ambulance to take their patient for treatment elsewhere. The MS simply rejected the request.

Torrub Ali was dying and his relatives were begging the administration and the concerned medical officers on duty for help – for doing their duty for which they get paid. But what to say of the apathy that rendered their hearts stolid and they never felt like even saying a word of kindness. In this agony, Ali lost his life to the fatal illness after two days of entreaties for medical attention at the hospital. His death symbolizes extreme apathy, neglect, and heartlessness on behalf of the doctors as well as the hospital’s administration. Even Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) despite its claim to humanitarian service worldwide had no mercy on a poor, dying man. Was it not an emergency?

Following his death, his grieving relatives demonstrated in protest outside the local press club with Ali’s corpse placed on the road to draw attention to the injustice and the failure of humanity in white coats. The press reported the tragedy in papers, following which the police registered a criminal complaint against the hospital’s MS Dr. Abdul Rasheed and the doctor named Nawab Hussain.  Ali’s family has held these two persons responsible for what they call the murder of their ill relative. The police have promised an investigation into the matter.

The big question mark here is not on an individual or an organization, but on the human heart that once was able to feel the pain of others and act to relieve it. Whatever happened to humanity! In a country where doctors don’t give a damn about life while pressuring by all means for a rise in pay and benefits, maybe emergency has another meaning – one that no sane person wants to hear.


Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net