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International – Pakistani callousness

July 2017

A Pakistani Christian sanitary worker has died after a doctor refused to treat him because the patient was covered in sewage.

Thirty-year-old Irfan Masih died on 2 June, when a doctor at Umerkot Hospital, Lahore, refused to touch his sludge covered body, because the doctor was fasting for the month of Ramadan.

According to Irfan’s brother, speaking to the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (Claas), Irfan fainted when he and three colleagues stepped down into a manhole at Chhore Road, Umerkot, for a routine inspection.

To get medical aid, 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. With nowhere to wash him, his colleagues kept pleading with the hospital staff, while the man lay on the hospital floor fighting for his life, but Dr Yousuf said he was fasting and he would not touch Irfan’s filthy body until it was cleaned.

Umerkot police, on the complaint of the victim’s father, Nazeer Masih, registered a First Information Report against six suspects, including three doctors. According to latest reports, police have arrested medical superintendent Dr Jaam Kunbhar over the death, although doctors at Umerkot Hospital went on strike to protest the arrest.

Nasir Saeed, director of Claas-UK, commented: ‘A life could have been saved if medical aid had been given in time. To stop such further incidents, the government should provide safety kits to their workers, but since these menial jobs are reserved for Christians nobody cares about them’.

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