South Asia

Doctor’s refusal to ‘touch’ unclean Christian during Ramadan caused his death in Pakistan

A Christian in Pakistan died after a doctor who was fasting refused to touch his ‘unclean’ body.

Irfan Masih, 28, died on 1 June 2017 after a doctor at Civil Hospital Umerkot, Lahore demanded Masih’s body to be washed before he treated him.

Irfan Masih and his three fellow Christian workers fell unconscious inside the manhole after inhaling the poisonous gas locked inside the sewage.

Masih entered the manhole to clear the sewage but after inhaling poisonous gas, he called out for help to his co-workers who were

Family staging protest with Irfan Masih’s body Courtesy_Twitter@nailainayat

waiting outside the manhole. Not having the equipment to pull Masih out of the hole, another worker Yaqoob Masih entered the manhole to rescue him.

“However, both men inhaled the fumes and fainted. Two other Christian sanitary workers, Faisal Masih and Shaukat Masih, went after them but they also fainted,” Masih’s brother Babar Masih told Morning Star News (MSN).

The passers-by are reported to have managed to pull out the four workers and carried them to the Civil hospital.

“The doctors refused to treat him because they were fasting and said he was ‘napaak [unclean],’” said Babar.

“Irfan’s family implored with the hospital staff as Irfan lay in a corner of 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,” reported Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK) in their Press Release.

Family members cleaned Masih’s body and an oxygen cylinder was given to Irfan.

“But the cylinder was empty” Babar said. “And, before they could arrange another cylinder, he died.”

CLASS reported that Irfan’s family believed that he would survive if he was attended to in time. They said that Irfan died because of the negligence of the doctor.

Yaqoob Masih, Faisal Masih and Shaukat Masih, the other three sanitary workers were referred to Hyderabad and later to Karachi for medical treatment.

Dr Kunbhar of the Civil Hospital told media that Irfan Masih had already passed away before arriving at the hospital as reported by media.

The family in protest carried Irfan’s body from the Civil Hospital to the Umerkot Press Club staging protest for about 10 hours demanding the registration of a criminal case as reported by MSN.

At the complaint of Irfan’s father – Nazeer Masih, a case was registered against the Civil Hospital Medical Superintendent Jam Kunbhar, the Medical Officer Yusuf Kanbhar and duty doctor Allahdad Rathore along with the three Umerkot Municipal Committee employees, Sanitation Inspector Behari Lal, Khalid Khoso and Sarwan Malhi.

The doctors are accused of criminal negligence and manslaughter for allegedly refusing treatment.

SSP Umerkot Usman Bajwa is reported by Geo.tv as saying that the cause of Irfan’s death is because the municipal committee had not given the workers safety equipment.

Health Director General Dr Akhlaq Khan, who later visited the hospital said that the hospital records and statements show that Irfan’s death was not a result of the doctor’s negligence but he agreed that the doctors were at fault to some extent.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK told Global Christian News that, “It is sad that Irfan Masih died because of the doctors’ negligence and hatred. A life could have been saved if medical aid had been given in time.

“This is not the first time that any sewer cleaner has died doing his duty, but I am aware of such several cases in the past too. To stop such further incidents the government should provide safety kits to their workers but since these menial jobs are reserved for the Christians nobody cares about them. The Government must provide safety kits to their workers for such risky jobs which have a record of claiming lives,” he added.

A similar incident is reported to have taken place in 2014 where a sewage cleaner who was struggling for life was referred to Hyderabad for treatment as the facility in Umerkot was not equipped to treat him.