Over-crowding of patients, rude behaviour of staff and unhygienic conditions are still the norms in government-run hospitals as hundreds of mostly impoverished patients and their attendants step into these premises.
A cursory visit to these hospitals would reveal weary looks in patient’s eyes, visible agony on their attendants faces as if they were forlorn and helpless in the whole wide world.
Some of these emotions may arise due to the severity of the afflictions but a lot may be because of the pathetic conditions at the hospitals and behaviour of the doctors and para-medical staff, that add up to the patients’ woes.
“The arrangements for patients here are pathetic as there is no one to look after them,” said Maryum, an attendant of a patient admitted in Gynecological ward of Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi.
She said about 10 hours had passed since her sister had given birth to a baby boy, but no doctor had visited to inquire the health of both mother and the newly-born.
“When I went to the medical officer’s room and asked her why the doctor was not coming on round in the ward, she said in a curt way that all the doctors are busy right now, Maryum added.
She said two patients were forced to share a single bed in the ward while the washrooms there were full of filth.
This is not the only story; rather there are hundreds of others who experience similar circumstances each day in government hospitals.
Medical Superintendent Holy Family Hospital Dr. Arshad Ali Sabir admitted the fact that the hospital was dealing more patients than its capacity. “We cannot deny (admission) to any patient, but it is also a fact that we do not have enough beds to accommodate such a large number of patients.”
“Sometime we have to adjust even two patients on a single bed especially in Pediatric and Gynecological departments,” he mentioned while talking to APP.
In Pakistan, health sector has been neglected as according to Pakistan Economic Survey 2014-15 report, currently there are only 1,142 hospitals, 5,499 dispensaries, 5,438 basic health units, 671 maternity and child health centers with only 175,223 doctors, 90,276 nurses and 118,041 hospital beds for a population of around 190 million.
Dr. Arshad said the provincial government had announced to establish a Child Healthcare hospital in Rawalpindi which would hopefully reduce load over pediatric departments of government hospitals.
The MS said the hospital had asked the provincial government to allow it to fill vacant seats of doctors and other staff, and hopefully new recruitments would be made soon.
He informed that an MRI center was being established at Radiology department of the hospital and in this regard grant of Rs.19 crore had also been allocated by the government.
According to reports, Punjab government has devised a comprehensive programme to make rural and basic health centers active besides improving health facilities in ten districts of the province. Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said nine centers of excellence will be set up in various cities during the year to improve healthcare.
“The government has enhanced health budget from Rs.121 billion to 166 billion which is a historic step,” he said during a press conference.
The condition of two major government hospitals of the federal capital is not that much different and patients here also suffer the same plight.
“It is really a harsh experience to stay in a government hospital due to inadequate facilities and behaviour of staff,” said Amjad Hussain who was recently discharged from Medical Ward of Polyclinic.
A doctor on the condition of anonymity told APP that the hospital was a hub of problems including inadequate health facilities and medical staff, worthless emergency service, poor security and low standard pediatric and gynecological wards.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division Usman Ibrahim had informed the Upper House of the parliament during a question hour that government was taking various steps to provide better health facilities to the patients in PIMS and FGPC hospital.
Extension and reconstruction of Federal Government Polyclinic has also been planned and additional 2.54 acres of land has been allocated in the adjacent Argentine Park for this purpose, he said.
The minister said the government had lifted ban over the purchase of physical assets including machinery, equipment and allocated Rs.32 million for this purpose, adding, ban on fresh recruitment of medical staff had also been lifted.
Though the current government is trying to improve the health and nutrition status of the country through promotional, preventive and rural services, but a lot more was needed to provide quality health services to masses which perhaps need some revolutionary steps.