Fact-Check: PIC Executive Director Removed For Requesting Elahi's Medical Records?

Fact-Check: PIC Executive Director Removed For Requesting Elahi's Medical Records?
LAHORE: On June 16, Moonis Elahi, former federal minister, shared a tweet claiming that the removal of Prof Bilal Mohyuddin from his position as the Executive Director of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) was unjustified. Moonis alleged that the senior cardiologist was removed from his administrative position for asking his mother to bring the medical records of his father, incarcerated former Punjab chief minister Pervez Elahi.

"When my father's health deteriorated and the prison authorities brought him to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), Prof. Bilal Mohyuddin called my mother to bring his medical records so that we could see and treat him," Moonis tweeted in Urdu, adding, "Dr. Sahib's affiliation may not be with any political party. He called for records from my mother as a doctor. Today it is known that he has been removed from the post. There is no justification for such a heavy penalty for retrieving medical records from a patient's family."


However, the facts regarding the case of Prof Bilal Mohyuddin tell a different story than what Moonis Elahi is alleging. Caretaker chief minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi took the decision to remove Prof Bilal Sheikh Mohyuddin based on several complaints, according to well-informed sources.

The first complaint against Prof Mohyuddin pertained to the shifting of Sehat Sahulat Programme patients from the public sector institute to private hospitals. It has been alleged that a 'mafia' within the government cardiac institute was involved in this shifting patients to secure greater financial benefits under the program.

The second complaint against Prof Bilal Mohyuddin concerned the use of injectable medicines instead of primary angioplasty for heart attack patients. It was noted that despite being the premier cardiac hospital in Punjab, the PIC performed primary angioplasty for only 40% of heart attack patients, while the remaining 60% were treated with streptokinase injections.

This approach disregards global standards, which purport that immediate coronary angioplasty leads to lower mortality rates compared to intravenous streptokinase treatment.

To address these concerns and ensure standardised guidelines, the Punjab government formed a monitoring team consisting of the health minister, secretary health, health adviser, and heads of major cardiology institutes. Official sources say the team was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the chief minister's initiative, aimed at ensuring that heart attack patients in public sector hospitals undergo primary angioplasty.

Despite multiple meetings and discussions, many major public health institutes, including PIC Lahore, failed to meet the targets set for them.

The situation was further complicated by the revelation that a significant number of emergency patients were being redirected to private catheterisation labs, as an offering of financial incentives to consultants. This nexus or 'mafia' operating in both public and private hospitals reportedly included doctors, consultants, and paramedics.

In light of these findings, the Punjab government expanded its inquiries to other public hospitals across the province. It was then discovered that the introduction of the Sehat Sahulat Programme led to a significant increase in the number of private 'cath-angio' labs, with 100 currently in operation as compared to 30-40 in 2021.

This shift of business from public to private facilities, estimated to be around 70%, has contributed to the deteriorated state of Punjab's public hospitals.

The removal of Prof Bilal Mohyuddin as executive director PIC was neither due to any unjust penalty nor related to the retrieval of any medical records, as claimed by Moonis Elahi in his tweet. It was a decision made by the Punjab government in response to serious allegations of patient transfer to private hospitals, and of the inadequate use of primary angioplasty.

According to official sources, the Punjab government aims to rectify the situation by addressing the issues within public hospitals, curbing the influence of the mafia, and ensuring the highest standard of care for heart attack patients.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy.