Post-mortem unit: For women victims, no privacy in death: KMC

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Although the number of post-mortem cases has increased by over 60% in the past decade, there are no female doctors in the city to perform autopsies.

The Forensic Science and Toxicology department of the Khyber Medical College (KMC) department, the only place in the city where autopsies are performed, is leanly staffed, and ill-equipped.

The department has been conducting autopsies since 1990, with a limited staff of one professor, two assistant professors and four medical officers. In addition to delivering lectures at KMC, they conduct autopsies and appear in court for numerous cases. The staff claims they are not paid for these extra services, even though their duties have more than doubled as a result of terrorist activities.

“It’s very astonishing that despite repeated requests to the government, we have no women doctor to conduct post-mortems and they are all carried out by male doctors, which is considered disrespectful in our culture,” said a doctor in the forensic department requesting anonymity.

He added the reason the department did not attract people was the unpleasant nature of the field. In addition, those who conduct autopsies have to attend court hearings if there’s a case related to the body.

“We are bound to do things which are necessary for conducting female autopsies because none of the female doctors are ready to provide services to this department.”

The doctor said the department had conducted many post-mortems which helped the police and law enforcement agencies track down culprits, but their efforts are not appreciated.

“Akhtar Ali was arrested in a robbery case in Mardan and died in police custody on August 19th last year. When we conducted the post-mortem later, it showed that the boy was killed by the police and the case took a U-turn,” he said.

Only government departments can refer bodies to the Forensic Science and Toxicology department and private citizens are not allowed to bring a dead body for an autopsy.

Officials said some posts for medical officers were lying vacant, but nobody was willing to apply for them. Even those transferred to this department use political influence to avoid joining the forensic department.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Director General Health Dr Sharif Ahmad Khan, however, held the department’s administration responsible for the lack of both male and female staff. He claimed it allowed doctors to be transferred to other healthcare institutions.

“We have transferred lady doctors to the department many times, but after serving for a few months, the administration of the forensic department provides them with No Objection Certificates and posts them to other hospitals if they so desire,” Dr Khan told The Express Tribune.

He added that the forensic department had not made any proper requests to recruit both male and female doctors.

If the provincial health department was given an official request with the required number of staff needed, we can discuss the matter with the Planning & Development Department and appoint doctors, Khan added.

Courtesy : Express Tribune