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Saturday Apr 21 2018

Committee presents recommendations to curb illegal organ trade in Pakistan

A doctor is seen working at an organ transplant operation theatre in this file image. — Reuters

KARACHI: The committee formed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan Saturday presented its recommendations to curb illegal trade of organs in Pakistan.

Speaking to media at Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Dr Adeeb Rizvi and former attorney general Munir A Malik and secretary of Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan said the committee presented several recommendations after a detailed inspection and thorough observation of the issue of illegal organ transplantation.

The most effective way to curb commercialisation and sale of organs and tissues is that the state, civil society, medical practitioners and health care providers proactively promote the donation of organs. National and provincial registries be established at state expense to create a deceased donor database and bank, they said.

"The state should support public hospitals in providing free-of-cost transplantation to all patients, and provide lifelong care to donors and recipients, and the capacity of all monitoring authorities should be exponentially enhanced," the committee recommended. "The state should institute mechanisms that enable all citizens desiring to join the deceased donor program to exercise the option of donating a lifetime gift of organs."

The committee noted that law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have expressed their frustration over provisions in federal and provincial laws on transplantation.

"The monitoring authority must ensure that it acts with all deliberate speed while dealing with complaints brought to its knowledge from any source, particularly from the vigilance committees of various law enforcement agencies, and that suitable rules be framed to prescribe the manner of filing complaints with the monitoring authority and for their expeditious disposal."

It recommended that transplant activities conducted at places other than establishments recognised under the Transplantation Acts and Rules be punished under the regular penal laws and for that purpose an additional section be added in the Pakistan Penal Code through an amendment made by the Parliament in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

"An appropriate amendment be made in Schedule II to the Code of Criminal Procedure making such offence non-compoundable, non-bailable and cognizable to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Act.

"The monitoring authority, while granting registration or renewal, should reserve the right to review the amount charged by a registered establishment according to prescribed criteria and to audit the transplant data and accounts maintained by the establishment," it said. "At the time of grant of registration to an establishment and at the time of renewal thereof, the monitoring authority must obtain the no-objection certificate of the relevant healthcare commission."

In case of brain death donors, the committee said, the respective police surgeons should provide guidelines of procedures to be followed before removing organs of the deceased donors in situations where medico-legal cases are pending, and that police surgeons be part of the procedures for brain death.

The committee further stated that for effective implementation of the transplant law, the law enforcement agencies, hospitals and civil society organisations should establish vigilance committees.

The vigilance committees should take immediate action to promptly coordinate with secretary of the monitoring authority who should be required to dispose off complaints within 24 hours.

Dr Rizvi further concluded that desired results could not be achieved without generating awareness regarding illegal and voluntary donation of organs.