This is part of the Hippocratic Oath that Doctors take when they get their degree to practice.

“I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;

I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;

The health of my patient will be my first consideration;

I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient;

I will protect human life in all stages and under all circumstances, doing my utmost to rescue it from death, malady, pain and anxiety.

To be, all the way, an instrument of God’s mercy, extending medical care to near and far, virtuous and sinner and friend and enemy

I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.”

The doctors in Umerkot at Sindh hospital would also have taken this oath, yet their act of a few days back was not only disturbing but heart breaking also.

Irfan Masih, a sanitary worker had gone down into the city sewer to clean it when he felt short of breath and was pulled out unconscious and taken to the hospital for medical attention. Dr Jaam Kunbhar, the doctorat the hospital in Umerkot was not ready to touch the patient as his body was covered with sewage and wanted it cleaned before he treated him; Irfan Masih died in the process.

The doctor was a Muslim and was fasting and did not want to touch the ‘dirty’ body. He violated all norms of religion and his oath. On top of that the oxygen cylinder the patient was provided was empty. While a new one was being located Irfan lost the battle for life.

I cannot describe my feelings of sadness and outright disgust learning this. Even if he was dirty it was the hospital’s task to provide him immediate first aid and follow up care before asking the family or attendants for anything. I felt like asking the doctor why we keep boast about piety and how Muslims are superior to others, and why did he not treat a human being who could have been saved but was left to die? Our Prophet (PBUH) helped even those too who insulted and abused him, and you claim to be his follower?

As if this was not enough, Director General Health Services Dr Ikhlaq Ahmed stated that the patient had died en-route to the hospital. When the police arrested Dr Jaam Kumbhar a number of doctors and staff of the hospital went on strike to secure his release. A page on social media named Medical Students “The Innocents” has put up a status too to portray the other side of the picture. What kind of doctors and care givers are these? Do they have any humanity left? Whenever something happens this is their usual way of blackmailing, not realizing how many patients will suffer due to their strike.

A doctor is supposed to perform his duty irrespective of religion, cast, creed, age or nationality of the patient. Doctors have a huge responsibility on their shoulders but, it seems, as if this doctor was more interested in the patient’s cleanliness than saving his life. He forgot these sanitary workers are the ones who clean up the roads and clogged gutters that are choked due to our mess.

A sanitary worker is usually underpaid, hardly respected, living in the most difficult circumstances and then to add insult to injury government announces sanitary jobs specifically for Christians. Why?

Such behavior from doctors are not new, I still have not forgotten how Alisha, a transgender in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was treated in Lady Reading Hospital.

Just this week, the father of a sick child from Pakistan appealed to the Indian government to help his child get treatment in India. We must applaud Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj for she issued medical visa for the sick child. If she wanted she could have ignored the appeal or refused on the basis that he was from Pakistan. If Sushma Swaraj, from an ‘enemy’ country helps a sick child why couldn’t the doctor in Umerkot? And I am sure we all remember many cases where Pakistanis have had a difficult surgery in India – which could have been done here had doctors been willing to be humans and not as many say butchers.

Over the years we have regressed in almost fields and not progressed. Successive governments, may these be democratic or military, have been at a tug of war for the right or wrong reasons, but no one has cared for the public’s basic needs.

Umarkot incident is a slap on our collective consciousness not only because a sanitary worker died due to criminal negligence of a doctor but also for Sushma Swaraj’s humane action of issuing a visa for a sick Pakistani child.