Saturday, March 21, 2009

Federal govt suspends NICVD director, staff goes on strike: Patients suffer due to 2-hr closure

By Amar Guriro

KARACHI: The staff of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) observed a strike on Friday, making the hospital a no-go area for cardiac patients, in protest against the removal of the NICVD director by the federal government on Thursday.

The strike forced hundreds of attendants of cardiac patients, not only locals of the city but also people hailing from various parts of Sindh and Balochistan, to wait for several hours outside the biggest cardiac hospital of the city. The federal government had issued the notification for the removal of NICVD Director Dr Shahzaman Khan on Thursday, appointing the senior-most doctor of the hospital, Dr Asadullah Kundi, as the new director.

Rejecting the notification, Dr Khan refused to handover charge to the newly appointed director. Sources said that the hospital employees that favoured Khan decided to protest against his removal and issued a strike call. For more than two hours, the hospital remained closed and the protesting staff did not allow any one to enter the premises, including patients who had come to get admitted. “Yes, I have still not handed over the charge, as most of the professors and hospital staff want to see me as director, but I did not manage the protest, it is a false allegation against me,” said former NICVD Director Dr Shahzaman Khan.

Upon being contacted, he told this scribe that he does not practice favoritism amongst his staff members. “All of them are my staff and I don’t discriminate between them,” he said.

NICVD is the biggest cardiac hospital with a capacity of 360 beds, however, in reality, the hospital has actually managed to accommodate more than 400 beds. It has three medical, one surgical, one pediatric ward, three coronary care units, one surgical intensive care unit and one Emergency unit with 28 beds. Hospital records reveal that the daily out-patient attendance averages 1,200 patients and an average of 250 patients are attended to in the emergency unit, out of which, around 30 patients, including 15 acute infarctions, are admitted on a daily basis.

Dr Khan further claimed that even the newly appointed director Dr Asadullah Kundi is not willing to take charge. “We conducted a meeting today and Dr Kundi said that the federal government is playing musical chairs and he does not want to be a part of the issue. Besides this, five professors are leaving on Saturday to meet with federal health secretary to negotiate the cancellation of my removal orders,” he said.

To a question, he admitted that he was not the most senior in the seniority list but he was appointed as the hospital director. “I am not getting any extra money for this position, I did a lot of work during my tenure and I am planning to start a new 100-bed ward, for which, I had told the federal government that if they cannot finance the project, I will manage the Rs 400 million for the construction of the ward. In such conditions, my removal is not fair,” he added.

Dr Khan also alleged that the ruling PPP government wants to appoint Dr Liaqutallah Cheema as the director of the hospital. (DT)

Fraudster caught at Al Asif Square

The Special Investigation Unit (SIU), in collaboration with an intelligence agency, arrested a man who duped various businessmen and industrialists into giving him millions of rupees by using names of higher authorities.

A SIU handout issued on Friday stated that, Khalid Hussain Solangi, son of Urs Solangi, was arrested when the SIU, along with intelligence officials, raided at a coach, Makka Coach, at Al-Asif Square in the Sohrab Goth area. The statement added that while Solangi was arrested, his two accomplices, Ramzan and Ghulam Mustafa, managed to escape. A TT pistol and drugs were recovered from his possession.

The handout further stated that during the initial course of interrogation, the culprit revealed that he, through a mobile phone, used to dupe various traders, businessmen and industrialists across the country including, Karachi, interior Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab, into giving millions of rupees as donations for earthquake victims, cancer patients and others, by using the names of various prominent personalities including former Inspector General of Police Shoaib Suddle, Brigadiers, Colonels, Generals and politicians.

The culprit further confessed that he was helped in the fraud and that he usually sent his accomplices to pickup the donations from businessmen and industrialists. Solangi used to dispose off the SIM cards after using them to make the calls; he has also been arrested before in Karachi, Raheem Yar Khan, Sukkur and Lahore. Solangi has now gotten into the drug business, as his donation fraud was not doing so well.