off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Provincial Bioethics 
Committee formed
in Punjab


National Bioethics Committee held its first ever meeting in Lahore on March 10th2014 which saw the induction of a few new members in the NBC besides retirement of a few after completion of their tenure. Formation of the Provincial Bioethics Committee which has remained on the agenda for the last many years also came under discussion. The meeting was also attended by Director General Health Services Punjab Dr. Zahid Pervaiz. Despite the fact that he had to leave early, he promised that the Provincial Bioethics Committee will be established in the next few days. He lived upto his promise and issued the notification establishing the Provincial Bioethics Committee on March 14th 2014 having the following members:

1. Dr. Zahid Pervaiz, DG Health Services Punjab, Ex officio member Chairperson.
2. Prof. Asad Aslam Khan, Pro VC KEMU Lahore Member Vice Chairperson
3. Dr. Abdul Majeed Akhtar, Faculty KEMU Lahore, Member (Academic) Secretary.
4. Prof. S.M. Awais, Prof.of Orthopaedics, KEMU Lahore Member.
5. Prof. Sadaqat Ali Khan, Prof. of Surgery KEMU, Member Clinical Secretary.
6. Dr. Haroon Jehangir Khan PC NCDs and Mental Health Punjab, (Member Social Sciences)
7. Prof. Mohammad Sohail, Prof. of Anatomy SZMC Lahore. Member (Academic)
8. Dr. Tayyaba Ijaz, Microbiologist Mayo Hospital Lahore. Member (Biosciences)
9. Dr. Iffat Shabbir, Research Director, PMRC SGRH, Lahore. Member (PMRC)
10. Dr.Tajammul Chaudhry, Assistant Professor Forensic Medicine, AIMC Lahore. Member (Clinical Sciences)
11. Prof. Mohammad Amjad, Prof. of ENT, SIMS Lahore. Member (CPSP)
12. Ms. Zeba Mir, Mayo Hospital Lahore. Member (Nursing Cadre)
13. Mr. Abdul Quddus, President High Court Bar Association.(Lawyer)
14. Mr. Mahfouz Chaudhry, Ratan Cinema, Lahore. Member (Civil Society)
15. Maulana Qan Tahir, Dept. of Auqaf, Punjab Lahore. Member (Religious Scholar)

Dr. Zahid Pervaiz Director Health Services Punjab is a very dynamic personality who has served as Medical Superintendent of various teaching hospitals in the province. Wherever he was posted, he proved his capabilities of an excellent administrator and made a difference improving the working of those healthcare facilities. He also played a vital role along with Kh.Salman Rafique in the campaign against the Dengue Fever in the province and brought it under control. Apart from being a dedicated worker himself, he also encourages his other team members to give their best and has always been receptive to the ideas, suggestions that is why he enjoys lot of respect among the healthcare professionals. His helping attitude is also admired by the faculty members. At the NBC meeting held at Lahore, which he attended for the first time, once he was convinced, he immediately took the decision and announced it then and there that the Provincial Bioethics Committee will be established in the province of Punjab, the promise he fulfilled within four days. This also throws light on a few other things which are as under:

• The NBC has been in existence now for almost ten years and this was the first time that it held its meeting in Lahore. All these years its meetings were held either in Islamabad or Karachi just for the convenience of few members. This was a wrong approach. It was pointed out time and again that to make the NBC more effective and realize its objectives, it must have meetings in difference provinces by rotation but somehow it did not happen. This was a wrong approach and strategy on the part of the NBC leadership. NBC needs to adopt a proactive approach, come out of the office, and ensure greater interaction with different provinces, other stake holders so that it becomes an effective, functional body with national character in the real sense. It also showed that had the NBC met in the provincial capital of Lahore earlier, the Provincial NBC would have been formed many years ago.
• The bureaucracy in the province of Punjab in genial and the health bureaucracy in particular are very efficient as compared to the other provinces. The DG Health Services Punjab was intelligent to have realized the importance of such a committee, was efficient enough and enjoyed confidence to take on the spot decision, did not wait to discuss it with the Provincial Health Secretary. The members which he has selected for the provincial NBC reflects the true composition which is required for an Ethics Committee having representation from different sections of the society.
• Had the NBC adopted a pro-active approach and made meaningful contact with people in the provincial health departments in other provinces, we might have been successful in establishing provincial bioethics committees in those provinces as well which so far a dream remains.
• Governance in general and of provincial health departments in particular in the other three provinces is not satisfactory and leaves much to be desired. This also has a direct reflection on the leadership qualities of the provincial chief executive. Punjab is fortunate to have a man like Mian Shahbaz Shareef as the Chief Minister. Instead of governing the province sitting is his office, he is most of the time found in the field. This has also annoyed some inefficient members of the provincial bureaucracy who are forced to work. By completing the Metro Bus Service Project in Lahore in a record time of just eleven months, Mian Shahbaz Shareef has proved his administrative qualities. He personally monitors, inspects all the development projects with the result that the quality of work is good and it also ensures their timely completion which is not the case as regards the development projects in other provinces. If the provincial leadership wakes up in the afternoon, how one can ensure efficient functioning of the provincial bureaucracy in addition to ensuring law and order situation. The other provinces need to learn some lessons and follow the example set by Punjab and its leadership.
• Functioning of the NBC has been highly unsatisfactory over the years due to various reasons, frequent changes in the Federal Health Ministry being a major one. It is high time that NBC improves upon its functioning, help establish provincial bioethics committees in other provinces, undertakes training programmes and impress upon the authorities that different guidelines prepared by the NBC are enforced and implemented. It will go a long way in ensuring ethical medical practice, monitoring and accountability of healthcare professionals as well as all others related to health services including the Pharma trade and industry.{jcomments on}

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