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Sorry state of affairs in Punjab public sector hospitals

Govt committed on reforms evolved for setting up healthcare system on modern lines

Death of a woman patient namely Zohra Bibi, recently, a resident of Kasur, in the Jinnah Hospital’s floor has raised a number of questions about state of affairs in the public sector hospitals. Despite claims of the Punjab government and vesting more powers to medical superintendents apart from perks and privileges to doctors and paramedics, the state of affairs in public sector hospitals is not improving, much to the dismay of public at large.

Although, the death of Zohra Bibi is not the first case; as such cases are a routine because of lacking facilities in the public sector hospitals and indifferent attitude of doctors as well as paramedics.

Inadequate number of beds, the resultant sharing of one bed by two and even three-four patients, dysfunctional equipment, unavailability of drugs and clinical tests facilities, shortage of healthcare providers and unhygienic atmosphere are order of the day at every public hospital in the provincial metropolis.

Irrational approach vis-à-vis allocating budget and posting of doctors and allied health staff has made available resources meager to cater requirements of huge influx of patients at government hospitals.

After the incident of Jinnah Hospital, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has suspended Medical Superintendent Jinnah Hospital on non-provision of proper treatment to female patient of Kasur in the hospital. He also directed to take strict action against the doctors and other staff responsible of negligence and laxity in the incident. Accordingly, senior professor and doctors were also suspended.

However, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Young Doctors Association (YDA) and Medical Teachers Association (MTA) are agitating over suspension of senior professors after the incident.

The representatives of these bodies said that policy makers needed to consider on ground situation and take steps to improve referral system to lessen burden on teaching hospitals. They also called for up-gradation of health delivery standard apart from increasing the number of beds in public sector hospitals.

After Zohra Bibi’s death, doctors are left with no other option except to provide treatment only on the beds. However, to avoid any action, doctors have started discharging the patients without total recovery, Naveed, a resident of Baghbanpura said.

The Chief Minister had already said that non-provision of immediate and proper facilities to the patient and make her lay on the floor was the worst negligence and inefficiency, which cannot be tolerated.

On one hand, the government is spending billions of rupees for the improvement of health sector and provision of treatment facilities to the people, but non-provision of treatment facility to any patient and leaving unattended is lamentable.

One of senior doctors told this scribe that the government allocated funds and post doctors, nurses and paramedical staff on the basis of bed strength of a hospital. At almost all hospitals, even posts created on the basis of beds strength are not fully occupied.

For instance 15,000 posts of nurses are lying vacant in the province, sources said, adding: “total bed strength of all the hospitals in Lahore is approximately 12,000 while an estimated 60,000 and 20,000 patients daily visit Outpatient Departments (OPDs) and Emergencies of hospitals, respectively. And the available bed capacity is insufficient to cater to the need of such a huge number of patients. As such doctors are treating 2-3 patients on one bed indoors.”

Out of 12,000 beds, 2,800 are available at Mayo Hospital, 1,500 each at Jinnah Hospital and Lahore General Hospital, 1,200 at Services Hospital, 1,000 at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, 700 at Children’s Hospital and the remaining at other hospitals in Lahore.

There is influx of patients from nearby cities in teaching hospitals of Lahore, especially Mayo Hospital, Jinnah Hospital, Lahore General Hospital, Lady Willington Hospital, Ganga Ram Hospital, Gulab Devi Hospital, which is causing problems.

As many as 1,628,747 patients were provided with free medical facilities at Emergency ward and OPD during year 2016, Principal Post Graduate Medical Institute and Lahore General Hospital, said Professor Ghiyas-un-Nabi Tayyab.

According to him, the LGH administration rendered utmost efforts and all possible professional input in order to cater the needs of patients in process of cure and treatment. During 2016, as many as 680,913 patients were treated at Emergency ward while providing them medicine, surgical support for operation, CT Scan and other facilities free of cost. As many as 55,062 patients were admitted in hospital and 79,808 operations of various types were carried out during last year. As many as 197,494 ex-ray reports, 8364 ultra sounds and more than 70,000 CT scans facilities were also provided to patients. The LGH lab contributed 1,757,522 various types of clinical tests, 17480 MRIs and 4180 gastro scope tests in 2016 while 1,664 kidney patients were given rays treatment.

The health authorities need to assess ground realities and come up with viable options to improve the service delivery in public sector hospitals. The change of mindset of existing incumbents working in hospitals is also required to achieve the desires results, critics said.

INTRODUCTION OF TURKISH SYSTEM

According to sources, the Punjab government is finding avenues for cooperation of Turkish Ministry of Health for getting benefit of Turkish public health service system, mobile health services, home healthcare service for bedridden patients, health tourism, emergency health services, motorcycle emergency service, early disease warning system, immunization of children and provision of medical as well as diagnostic facilities in the hospitals.

In Turkey vaccinators do not visit door to door for vaccination/immunization of children but it is mandatory for parents to bring their children at the health facility/health center for vaccination.

According to Punjab Health Minister, Khawaja Salman Raffique, Turkish health model would be studied while evolving strategy and planning for introducing further reforms for the improvement of health sector in Punjab.

He said quality health facility was the right of every citizen and for this purpose, the Punjab government was implementing a comprehensive program. He said, “Reforms program has been evolved for setting up healthcare system on modern lines and we have to move forward speedily for implementation of that program.” He said the Punjab government would ensure provision of latest medical facilities to the people by implementing reforms program through innovation in healthcare system.

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