Hundreds of organ transplantation cases could not be processed as the Human Organs Transplant Authority (HOTA), a subsidiary of the federal health ministry, has become a victim of ad hocism.
Under the 2007 ordinance, the regulatory body was formed to register, regulate and monitor institutions offering transplants in the country. After devolution, provincial HOTAs were set up to discharge the regulatory function and the federal HOTA assumed responsibility for the Islamabad Capital Territory alone.
Sources said that the absence of a permanent administrator at HOTA has led to an inordinate delay in the issuance of No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) for transplantations.
Surprisingly, only one regular administrator completed a four-year tenure in the institution since 2007, while for the rest of the year, the regulatory body has continuously been run on an ad hoc basis.
Dr Mohsin Naveed, who served as a permanent administrator of the HOTA, returned after completing a four-year tenure in March.
Since then, affairs of the institution are being run on an ad-hoc basis as the HOTA has no permanent head and the posts of monitoring officers are also lying vacant.
Monitoring officers have the main responsibility to process the applications along with the NOCs to the authorities concerned after a thorough review of each case as per the law.
The positions of monitoring officers are exclusively meant for specialist doctors, however, currently the admin officer himself referrers such cases to the health secretary, who is the acting administrator, to issue the NOC.
Sources said that several transplant cases have been pending in HOTA due to the non-appointment of a permanent head and monitoring officers while patients, who are in urgent need of transplantation, are facing serious problems.
The HOTA is responsible for the provision of rules and regulations for the removal, surgery and transplantation of human organs and tissues for treatment under the authority, control and prohibition of organ trade, prevention of illegal sale of organs by Pakistani nationals to foreigners, approval of products of human organ and tissue transplantation to improve the quality of transplantation.
The sources said that the inordinate delay in the appointment of a permanent head of a very important institution was causing mental agony for patients as well as their relatives.
A senior official at the health ministry said on condition of anonymity that the appointment of a permanent head of HOTA was currently being delayed as a proposal was under consideration to merge it with the Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2022.