Cancer injections: IHC puts nuclear bodies, health secretary on notice

ISLAMABAD: A high court in the capital has issued put the country’s chief nuclear bodies and the health secretary on notice over alleged threats to a whistleblower.

Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Thursday heard a petition filed by former Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) official Riaz Pasha, filing through his counsel Raja Mohammad Farooq, that he was facing harassment and intimidation after he blew the whistle on contaminated injections which are being used to diagnose cancer.

The court has issued notices to the respondents including the federation through the secretary of the health ministry, the National Command Authority (NCA) through the prime minister and the chairman of the PAEC for October 15.

The court has also ordered that an authorised officer of PAEC shall appear in person and explain the reasons referred in the petition at the next hearing of the case.

The court order noted that the petitioner had urged the IHC to direct the respondents to provide protection to him and his family against intimidation and harassment.

In the petition, Pasha stated that he is in a difficult situation after he raised the lid on some sub-standard injections — Tc-99 generator— which was supposed to aid the diagnoses of cancer. Instead, he claimed that they were sucking the life of patients causing them to have nervous breakdowns.

Pasha had further claimed that the health minister had recently received a petition from the resident secretariat and had advised the PAEC chairman to provide compensation to cancer patients who had allegedly been cheated in the name of nuclear medicine treatment.

He explained that the quality of life of numerous patients had been negatively affected because they had been injected with a harmful radiation medicine.

The matter has come before the apex court thrice, once through a suo motu and thereafter agitated by the petitioner. On all three occasions, however, the petitioner was forced to withdraw the matter from the apex court because the alleged offenders were ‘protected’.

Pasha claimed that ever since the case surfaced, he had been harassed and pressured.

Documents attached with the petition revealed that a report by Moody International Certification Group, carried out on February 12, 2013, stated that the molybdenum-99 content in the injections was found to be much higher than the specified values and that they were delivered to different hospitals.

The petition claims that PINSTECH and PAEC cheated thousands of cancer patients in the name of nuclear medicine diagnosis.

The petitioner added that PINSTECH supplied a number of cancers diagnostic injections to various hospitals which were contaminated with undesirable radionuclides that cause cancer.

According to nuclear regulations the administration of higher levels of undesirable radionuclides could potentially affect health and safety as well as has an adverse effect on nuclear medicine image quality.

Pasha claimed to be privy to the actual results and their wrong portrayal in the final quality control reports sent to hospitals because he had overseen the quality control procedures of from 2012 to 2013.

The undesirable radionuclides irradiate blood sensible bone marrow and cause leukemia and other blood diseases and rather amounts to fitting an atomic bomb into the human body resulting in the failure of organs and immune system of human body and that too at the stage where it is yet to be diagnosed as to whether any person is suffering from cancer or not.

That the petitioner over a period of time ever since the surfacing of the same has through been harassed, pressurized intimated and even been threatened to be removed from the scene.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2018.

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