Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif free on medical bail

A supporter of Pakistan former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif distributes sweets after the High court bailed Sharif on medical grounds, outside a hospital, in Lahore on October 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2019

Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif free on medical bail

  • The former prime minister suffered a minor heart attack overnight
  • Sharif, who served three times as prime minister, has had a history of health problems, including heart disease

LAHORE: The Islamabad High Court on Saturday granted medical bail to jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence after being convicted on corruption charges last year. 
Sharif was taken to a Lahore hospital on Monday where he was diagnosed with an immune system disorder. 
“The court has granted interim bail to Nawaz Sharif on humanitarian grounds till Tuesday,” Zafrullah Khan, a lawyer for Sharif, told media.
The former PM has also been granted bail in a corruption case involving a sugar mill for which he had been remanded in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau for questioning.
Bail in the Al Azizia corruption case was granted after the NAB told the court during Saturday’s hearing that it had “no objections to bail being granted,” the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.
On Saturday, Sharif’s physician said that he had suffered a heart attack in hospital.
“His condition is not good,” Dr. Adnan Khan told Arab News on Saturday.
In a Twitter post, Khan said that his patient’s clinical status was “extremely and critically unstable, putting health and life at risk.”
Sharif’s brother Shehbaz, who is president of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), filed a bail appeal with the Islamabad High Court on Friday. The court deferred the matter until Tuesday, but a miscellaneous application was submitted on Saturday asking that the case be heard urgently.
In court, Khawaja Haris, Sharif’s main lawyer, said that the former PM had suffered a life-threatening heart attack. He also presented a copy of Friday’s judgment by the Lahore High Court granting Sharif bail in the Chaudhary Sugar Mills case on medical grounds.
On Monday, Dr. Mahmood Ayaz, head of a medical board formed to examine Sharif, told a court that Sharif had acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a bleeding disorder that destroys blood platelets in the body.
After Sharif was taken to hospital, PMLN members claimed that his health is deteriorating and the government is delaying treatment.
“Nawaz Sharif has been suffering from multiple diseases for a long time,” senior PMLN leader Pervaiz Rashid told Arab News. “The reports submitted in the courts a few months ago indicated that he was not well, but no heed was paid, which aggravated the problem.”
Muhammad Rafiullah, a spokesman for Punjab’s chief minister, said that Sharif was receiving the best medical care available.
“Every possible measure is being taken to provide medical help for Nawaz,” he said.

Pregnant mom, unborn child die in India

Updated 08 July 2020

Pregnant mom, unborn child die in India

  • Devastated family mourn latest victim of health system struggling to cope with outbreak

NEW DELHI: The death of an expectant mom and her unborn child after 13 hospitals in one day refused to treat her has put India’s strained health care system under the spotlight.

The devastated husband and 6-year-old child of eight-month pregnant Neelam Singh, 30, are still struggling to come to terms with the “unwarranted loss” a month after her agonizing death in an ambulance outside a hospital in New Delhi.

With more than 100,000 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Indian capital, Singh became another victim of a health system battling to cope with patient demand due to a lack of bed space and infrastructure.

That, however, has been little comfort for her family members who said they would never be able to overcome the trauma.

“Those 12 hours were the most traumatic experience of our lives, and we have to live with that trauma,” Shailendra Kumar, Singh’s brother-in-law, told Arab News on Tuesday. Singh had developed complications with her pregnancy on June 5, and Kumar said she was rushed to the same hospital in Noida, Uttar Pradesh where she had been going for regular checkups, but was turned away.

“Shivalik (hospital) gave no reason for refusing to admit her. Despite our pleadings, the hospital did not budge from its stand,” Kumar added.

A day-long ordeal ensued, with one hospital after the other unable to treat her. Eventually, she died in an ambulance some 35 kilometers away from her home in Khoda.

“I took her to 13 hospitals, both government and private facilities, and every one refused to admit her. The image of her writhing in pain will always haunt me,” said Kumar, who was accompanied by Singh’s husband. He added that the reasons provided varied from “high costs” to a lack of facilities.

“One hospital told me that I could not pay the high cost so better try my luck somewhere else. At Sharda Hospital in Greater Noida, I was asked to buy a coupon for COVID-19 treatment for 4,500 rupees ($60), which I did, but still, they refused her entry. It was not the loss of one life but two lives,” he said, referring to her unborn child.

He pointed out that the entire family was in a state of shock following her death with her husband “the worst impacted.”

Kumar filed a complaint against Shivalik and other hospitals but said so far “no action has been taken.”

A day after Singh’s death, the district magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar, which Noida falls under, ordered an inquiry and issued instructions for all hospitals “to admit patients regardless of the nature of the case.”

However, 20 days later, on June 26, a similar incident was reported in the Dadri area of Noida.

On that occasion, 21-year-old Robin Bhati had developed a fever, and relatives had taken him to a nearby hospital where a week earlier he had been admitted suffering from influenza. However, the hospital refused to admit him and referred him to a different facility.

Five hours and four hospitals later, a city hospital agreed to take him in, but by then Bhati was already seriously ill and hours later he died after suffering a heart attack.

“We don’t know whether he was a COVID-19 patient or not, but why should hospitals refuse to admit a patient in need of immediate attention,” his uncle Jasveer Bhati told Arab News. A number of the Noida hospitals which allegedly denied admission to Singh and Bhati refused to comment on the cases.

In a statement on Monday, the office of Noida’s chief medical officer said: “Strict instructions have been given to all the private and government hospitals to admit all patients showing COVID-19 symptoms.”

Dr. Loveleen Mangla, a pulmonologist working with Noida-based Metro Hospital and Heart Institute, said: “The government did not prepare itself to face this situation. Now the government is trying to create extra beds and medical facilities, but it’s late. They should have done this three months ago when the nationwide lockdown started.

“With the entire medical infrastructure overstretched and not many quality health workers available in the government hospitals, it’s a grim scenario now,” Mangla added.

With more than 723,000 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, India is now the world’s third worst-affected country after the US and Brazil, with approaching 21,000 people losing their lives.

And the problem is not unique to northern India.

On Saturday, the southern Indian city of Bangalore reported the case of 50-year-old Vasantha, who was rejected by 13 hospitals before she was accepted by the K.C. General Hospital where she eventually died.

Lalitha, a relative of Vasantha, said: “Some hospitals said they didn’t have beds; some said they didn’t have COVID-19 testing facilities, and that way we lost critical hours. She died because of a problem with her respiratory system.”

Experts have questioned whether health care facilities in India are being overstretched purely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Anant Bhan, a Delhi-based independent researcher in global health, policy and bioethics, said: “Is there a real shortage of beds or is it the shortage caused by lack of efficient management? If the cases increase further, we might find it difficult to provide care.”