Over 73 percent of the districts of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) do not have a single functioning X-ray machine in their tertiary care hospitals, an official report has revealed.
As the ruling elite prefers treatment abroad, hospitals in Pakistan particularly in KP are facing acute shortage of essential medical equipment and at least 76 government hospitals, including District and Tehsil Headquarters hospitals, have not a single X-ray machine, official data revealed.
Nineteen District Headquarters (DHQs) Hospitals of the province do not even have a single functioning X-ray machine. According to a latest official report, a copy of which is available with The News, out of 109 secondary healthcare facilities across KP, 62 have no functioning ultrasound machines and 58 are without anaesthesia facility.
The data of 109 large hospitals shows that operation theatre is not functional in 54 such facilities while 77 has no power generator and 38 do not even have blood banks. Despite claims of massive healthcare reform by the provincial government in KP the document revealed that 77 secondary care hospitals including DHQs hospitals, tehsil headquarters hospitals and civil hospitals are deprived of Labour room equipment while 72 have no laboratory.
Talking to The News provincial Health Secretary Abid Majeed endorsed the shortage of medical equipment claiming that the government will purchase new equipment after July this year to overcome the crisis.
The data also shows that entire population of Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Mardan, Tank, Battagaram and Shangla districts is deprived of a single X-ray machine in any government facility including DHQs, THQs and Civil Hospitals. These districts are also deprived of facilities like anaesthesia, generators, ultrasound and blood banks.
The DHQs in Nowshera, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Chitral, Charsadda, Dera Ismail Khan, Haripur, Kohat, Karak, Malakand, Swabi, Hangu and Buner are also working without single functioning X-ray machine.
Under the international trauma guidelines, each district hospital should not only have several X-ray working machines but at least one Computerised Tomography (CT scan) machine. But the health department did not mention availability status of CT scan machines. Health experts believe the absence of these essential equipment could threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living in these areas as is not possible for doctors to provide emergency care to trauma victims without proper diagnoses.
Talking to The News, Associate Professor of Radiology at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS), Dr Ayesha Isani Majeed said absence of X-ray machines is “criminal negligence on the part of healthcare managers as X-ray is the basic need for treatment of majority of patients.”
“The absence of these machines can be life-threatening as it is not possible for doctors to provide emergency care to trauma victims without proper diagnoses,” Isani added. When contacted by The News the KP Health Secretary Abid Majeed said the data is collected by the government to improve health care services in the province.
“We are aware of the shortage of equipment and we are devising a strategy to overcome it,” he said adding that two surveys have been completed across the province with the help of donors.
Under an internationally-funded project the KP government is repairing faulty medical equipment and the work has been started in eight districts, he said. Majeed said 11 more districts will be included in the project later.
He said under a local exercise unused packed equipment has been collected from various facilities to be dispatched to hospitals where the same technology is required. “This process will be completed in seven days”
He said X-ray machines will be bought and replaced across the province in July after the approval of new budget. He said the government also wants to ensure provision of electricity to all hospitals so that the equipment could be utilised properly. “Before buying the equipment we will ensure the hospital has the infrastructure and human resource to utilise the machines,” he added.