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Public hospitals and healthcare facilities in poor quality

In our country health has always been a neglected sector. Our civil hospitals and healthcare facilities are substandard. Public hospitals lack specialized doctors, technicians, blood banks and ventilators. The ambulances and stretchers are outdated; lack of hygiene and a dirty atmosphere add to the horrible situation. There are no specialists on hand to prescribe the right combination of medicines for the deteriorating condition.

Due to an acute shortage of many crucial machines at the hospital, one had to take to a private clinic. No section of the class is spared. Even the privileged middle-class families experience a terrible time at the hospital. The nurses had to often place two patients on the same bed in many wards of the unit, because the wards do not have enough beds. The beds that they did lack stands to hang the drips or blood bottles; the hospital staff would hook the drips up by tying them to nails on the wall. The walls are dirty, hygiene is poor and cats freely roam and pounce on the patients’ food.

There is no privacy either, shades had to be frequently brought in and all male relatives of all other patients had to leave, if any one patient had to use the bedpan.

The male ward is more worse; the sick and suffering milling out of it into the hallway on stretchers.

Many doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital are responsive but are overworked they were.

Many specialists at a public hospital in Pakistan actually take out time to visit patients instead of focusing on their private practice.

The Prime Minister’s Healthcare Programs are merely temporary, stop-gap arrangements which do little in addressing our massively ailing healthcare system.

Some people in Pakistan die simply because there is an absent of doctor or an unavailable dialysis machine.

Many of Pakistan’s major hospitals which provide crucial medical care to the masses, from Lady Reading in Peshawar to Karachi’s Civil Hospital, were constructed during British colonial times. Countless hospitals were built and operational before 1947, but post-partition; the government built very few hospitals that could be accessed by the public.

Pakistanis owe their healthcare system to the British, after partition the government has made little effort to build more hospitals.

Under the helm of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) program, centers like the National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease were established to provide tertiary healthcare to people with heart disease who need emergency treatment. USAID also helped develop the Basic Medical Sciences Institute (BMSI) at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and at other places in Pakistan.

Despite support from the US development agency, the healthcare infrastructure did not survive in Pakistan due to a lack of interest by political leaders and the non-cooperation of health professionals who were not interested in an organized healthcare system in Pakistan.

Donors such as USAID can construct a building and equip the hospital with modern instruments but they cannot insert honesty and competency in a politically-motivated administration. Pakistan’s policymakers lack political vision.

A proper tertiary healthcare system is not available in the public sector in Pakistan. No political leader or well-to-do government officer would choose to seek treatment for themselves or for their families at a public hospital for treatment.

The only exceptions are people who are too poor and can’t afford treatment at private hospitals or those like Abdul Sattar Edhi, who apparently chose to be admitted into a public hospital.

More than 70 medical and dental colleges in the public sector with enough financial support to run the attached tertiary care teaching units but no balanced person wants to go to these centres to seek treatment for any illness.

Mostly all faculty members work on a part-time basis and the majority of patients are managed by trainee junior doctors. The pivotal decisions are taken by very junior staff at odd hours when the faculty members are usually busy in private practice.

This is the reason we often witness violent behavior of patients’ relatives when they lose their loved ones from mismanagement or other complications.

Poor patients are the victims of bad governance and poor policies adopted by governments, as well as strikes by doctors who are least perturbed about the patients or the profession.

PROMPT REFORM MEASURES

There are rare exceptions in different cities of the country but there is no organized and efficient system that exists in our teaching hospitals attached to medical college and universities in every province of Pakistan.

The government needs to re-evaluate its policies. The immediate improvement of ambulance and emergency services is necessary. Targets should be set by the government to increase the annual GDP for health to four percent which at present is 1.5 percent.

It is advisable that bureaucratic red-tape be minimized at the public hospitals so that people have access to speedy health facilities.

The government needs to re-evaluate its policies. The immediate improvement of ambulance and emergency services is necessary. Targets should be set by the government to increase the annual GDP for health to four percent which at present is 1.5 percent.

It is advisable that bureaucratic red-tape be minimized at the public hospitals so that people have access to speedy health facilities.

All over the world doctors are more interested in their private practice but politicians and policymakers in coordination with dedicated doctors have been able to develop healthcare systems for the benefit of general public.

Sweden, UK, France, and Turkey are countries where such healthcare systems have been established with great success.

The government of these countries was able to develop an organized and arranged teaching and training programme in their tertiary care hospitals to produce competent medical specialists who could practice medicine ethically after graduation.

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