Pakistan expands project for biometric identification of unidentified bodies and patients
After delays, the caretaker government in Punjab has collaborated with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the healthcare department to launch a project for the biometric identification of unidentified bodies and patients.
The project is currently operational at 50 teaching hospitals, 26 district headquarters hospitals and 115 tehsil (county) headquarters hospitals.
A similar system in Karachi has reportedly been used to identify thousands of corpses and hundreds of uncommunicative patients already.
The Punjab Police would be responsible to find the relatives of patients or the deceased once NADRA software identifies them. The project was proposed three years ago when Dr. Salman Kazmi from Mayo Hospital spoke out and said that many unidentified patients and bodies at the hospital ER were buried or disposed of without trying to identify and notify relatives, according to Dawn.
At this time, he turned to Lahore High Court (LHC) as a matter of public interest, saying that his hospital alone received 40 to 50 unclaimed bodies each month aside from unidentified patients in its ER. The LHC directed the institutes concerned to sign a memo to collect the fingerprint biometrics of unidentified patients and bodies.
The matter stood pending between departments as no one wanted to pay the identification cost of 200 Pakistani rupees (roughly US$2.41). However, the issue received national attention once more as it was revealed that Nishtar Hospital Multan had dead bodies decomposing on the rooftop.
Azhar Siddique, senior lawyer, filed another petition in court to clear barriers and implement the project out of the best interest of the public, arguing that the Punjab government should make biometric identification of all unidentified patients and bodies entering government hospitals across the province mandatory.
The project was launched just last week after the LHC ordered for state institutions to sign a memo and implement the project.