Doctors deny treatment: a Christian worker dies

Muslim doctors refuse to treat unclean Christian during Ramadan

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – It is an incident that has raised outrage and clamor, which highlights the discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan: Christian Sewer cleaner Irfan Masih died on June 2nd when a Muslim doctor at Umerkot Hospital, Lahore, refused to touch his sludge covered body because he was fasting. The doctor said he would not touch Irfan’s filthy body until it was cleaned.

Thirty-year-old Masih fell unconscious while cleaning a drain, due to toxic fumes. His colleagues took him to the nearby Civil Hospital, but doctors told them to wash his body first and then they would begin his treatment. Irfan was in serious condition and needed urgent care. His family and his colleagues kept imploring and pleading with the hospital staff, but Dr Yousuf said he would not touch his body.

Irfan’s family believes that he could have survived if timely treatment had been provided to him. They believe that Irfan only died because of the doctor’s negligence.

Irfan’s colleagues and workers at the local municipality and a large number of people from the Christian community in Umerkot took Irfan’s body and staged a demonstration outside the local press club, where they protested against the local administration and hospital. The victim’s father, Nazeer Masih, registered an FIR against six suspects, including three doctors. The police ordered the arrest of Dr. Jaam Kunbhar. Health Director General Dr Akhlaq Khan visited the hospital, where he said that according to hospital records and statements, Irfan’s death was not a result of the doctor’s negligence.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS(Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement), who provides legal assistance to Pakistani Christians, comments to Fides: It is a sad and significant episode: “A life could have been saved if medical aid had been given in time. This is not the first time that any sewer cleaner has died doing his duty. The government should provide safety kits to their workers but since these menial jobs are reserved for the Christians nobody cares about them”.

The “Cecil and Iris Chaudhry” Foundation (CICF) also expressed shock for the tragic accident. Michelle Chaudhry, president of the Foundation, told Fides: “A society becomes extremely dangerous when it becomes inhumane. An innocent life has been lost because someone refused to carry out his duty, at a deontological and public service level.

The doctor violated Hippocrates’ oath that obliges him to treat a patient in any circumstance, beyond religion and social class”.

The Foundation calls for justice, and wrote to the Prime Minister of the province, the provincial health ministry and every competent authority to ensure that an impartial inquiry is carried out.

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