Visa refusal torments sick girl’s family
ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: Ghanva Aliza, just like any four year-old, dreams of going to school. In her childhood innocence she asks questions about how long before she grows up. But every day she fights with strength and courage Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, commonly known as blood cancer.
The doctors detected the disease 18 months ago. Since then Ghanva has been undergoing chemotherapy at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH)’s children oncology ward, a treatment she can’t bear.
“Chemotherapy is an aggressive treatment. They have to sedate her before injecting into her backbone. The injections are so strong, I can feel her body burn when I take her into my arms,” said Rana Abdul Baqi, Ghanva’s grandfather and someone the family relies on.
Ghanva’s mother is also a doctor and a private practitioner. But Ghanva takes up most of her time because the girl needs 24-hour attention – a bigger job than she expected but one she wouldn’t trade for anything.
But the family’s anguish worsened when the British High Commission refused them entry visas to take Ghanva to London for tests, expressing reservations over suspect documents and blocking their right to appeal to challenge the “wrongfulÂ” decision.
Had the visa been issued to Ghanva, she was then supposed to take Minimal Residual Disease Assessment (MRD) at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, which had issued an outpatient appointment for August 28.
Mr Rana Baqi said, “We have tried Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and took Ghanva to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, but they don’t have the facilities to carry out MRD. They can’t even send a sample abroad which is why it became necessary to take her to the UK.”
Mr Baqi said the family had submitted complete documents again which included a letter from their bank’s vice-president confirming details of the genuine account holder and his fresh bank statement, a document to which the BHC had objected earlier.
“The High Commission can carry out as many investigations they want, and call us for interview to rectify their suspect inquiry and provide relief to the ailing child and her parents,” said Rana Baqi.
When head of Press and Public Affairs, BHC, Aidan Liddle, was contacted, he said he did not have complete information about the case. “But it is clearly a sad situation. If the family has appealed, we will look into it with compassion,” he said.