Unethical disclosure – 28 May 2023

IN its glee over the travails of its nemesis, the PTI, at the hands of the establishment, the government has sunk to a new low. On Friday, Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel held a press conference to announce the results of what he claimed were the preliminary results of medical tests carried out on PTI chairman Imran Khan at the NAB office following his arrest on May 9. Mr Patel was scarcely able to contain himself as he smugly announced that doctors had found no evidence of a fracture in the former prime minister`s legs, while traces of alcohol and cocaine were detected in the urine sample and that his mental stability was `questionable`. According to the minister, Mr Khan`s examination was carried out by a medical board consisting of five senior medical professionals at the Polyclinic and the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. One wonders how any of these individuals could sign off voluntarily on a document so flawed and self-contradictory.

But first and foremost, regardless of the veracity of the report, it is completely unethical to disclose an individual`s medical information for any purpose. In most civilised countries, medical records are handled with utmost confidentiality and covered by data protection laws. Such data, unless its disclosure is consented to by the person concerned, should remain confidential. Instead, the coalition government chose to use the purported test results to further its political agenda. In any case, the fact that this task was undertaken by Mr Patel a PPP leader whose appointment as head of the health ministry raised many eyebrows meant its credibility was in doubt from the very outset. The `results`, as announced by him, have had scorn poured on them from almost every section of society and the media. On the first page, the report declares Mr Khan `fit` to be presented before NAB and describes his `higher mental function` as `intact`. In the observations at the end, however, the report concludes that Mr Khan `had little insight about the seriousness and reality of the current situation. The mental stability is questionable`.

As though to underscore the farcical nature of this exercise, the concluding remark reads: `There were some inappropriate gestures.` The parties that comprise the coalition government have lost all sense of proportion in their desire to humiliate and vanquish their political opponent.

Read more