RAMADAN: Muslim doctors let sewer worker die because his body is “unclean”

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Poor medical ethics and the Islamic religion led Muslim doctors in a government hospital in Pakistan to reject treating an unconscious sanitary worker, who later died.  Reportedly, the man was Christian.

According to reports, 30-year-old Irfan Masih was cleaning a manhole along Chorr road in Umerkot when he and three of his co-workers fell unconscious. The destitute conditions of this manhole had already claimed the lives of 25-year-old Krishan Gujrati and 28-year-old Nawaz Masih, in September 2012.

At the hospital, Masih was so covered in sewer sludge that the doctors, who were fasting for Ramadan, refused to treat him. Irfan’s mother Irshad is said, “The doctors refused to treat him because they were fasting and said my son was ‘napaak [unclean]’.”

Adding to the sadness of the story is the effort of Irfan’s brother Pervez who cleaned off Irfan as fast as possible and tried to help him breath by hooking up an oxygen cylinder the doctors had sent. “But the cylinder was empty. And, before they could arrange another cylinder, he [Irfan] died,” he told local media.

Fed up with the poor adherence to good medical practice and safe working conditions, the family, community and locals staged a sit-in demonstration, along with the body, on the inter-district road connecting Umerkot to other parts of Sindh.

The demonstration was met with a subdued response from Additional Deputy Commissioner Subhash Chandar Sham who told the media at the scene, “An inquiry team is being constituted to investigate the case. If the municipal officers or doctors are found to be involved … the government will take action.”

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