NA committee discusses bill against human-organs trade
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Health on Tuesday unanimously decided that it would pass a proposed bill against the illegal sale of human organs after discussing it clause-by-clause in its next meetings.
“There was complete unanimity among the members of the committee on the bill,” Senator Shahzad Waseem of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) told Daily Times. Mr Waseem had moved the bill in the assembly.
He said the committee would meet within the next two weeks to start clause-by-clause discussion on the bill. He added that Federal Health Minister Muhammad Nasir Khan had assured his full cooperation to pass the proposed bill in parliament. The participants of the meeting were given a detailed presentation on the bill’s legal, ethical and technical aspects. Mr Waseem observed that the trade of human organs was a violation of human rights and tarnished the image of Pakistan.
The meeting decided that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) would be involved in the discussion to ensure that none of the clauses of the bill contradicted Islamic injunctions.
The committee members observed that the bill must not be linked with party politics. The health minister assured the members that “the typical bureaucratic hurdles” would not hinder the bill. The matter was first raised in the Senate through a private member’s bill. Senate Chairman Mohammadmian Soomro had referred the bill to the concerned standing committee to discuss the bill in detail.
The bill states that a donor can donate an organ of his body only to a person he is emotionally or genetically related with. Once passed, the bill would ban every kind of sale and purchase of human organs in the country. Mr Wasim, who conducted a detailed countrywide survey to collect maximum information for his bill, said that a number of private hospitals were involved in the illegal trade of human organs.
He said that the private hospitals maintain close links with brokers and agents. These brokers and agents do not target one or two people but entire villages for this purpose, he added.
The PML senator claimed that in normal cases, the hospitals charge Rs 100,000 to Rs 200,000 for each kidney from potential buyers. Whereas, the donors are given not more than Rs 30,000, he added. He condemned the exploitation of the poor. Discussing the link between the human organs trade and the image of Pakistan abroad, Mr Waseem told the committee members about a famous case of “transplant tourism” that generated a heated debate in the European Union (EU) states.
Referring to the example of a London-based millionaire, Thor Anderson, Mr Waseem asserted that there was an increasing tendency among young Pakistani girls to donate their kidneys. Mr Waseem told the committee that in early 2003, Mr Anderson had publicly admitted buying a kidney for himself from a poor Pakistani girl, Sumaira, for £3,000. Mr Anderson’s statement was followed by a heated debate in Britain and other European Union states and European buyers of human organs came under fire, he added.
Mr Waseem said that EU lawmakers had called on member states to stop wealthy EU citizens from buying organs from poor donors outside the EU bloc last year.