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ISLAMABAD: Thousands of patients in the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad are facing serious problems as no government hospital there has a functioning magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

The Pakistan Institute of Management Sciences (PIMS) is without an MRI machine since 2021 when its lone machine went out of order and the administration miserably failed to purchase a new one. As a result, poor patients are forced to pay Rs10,000 to Rs25,000 for simple MRI scans to private laboratories.

Government Polyclinic Hospital which is the second biggest hospital in the federal capital has no MRI machine since its inception, while MRI machine at the National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicines (NIRM) has also gone out of order. Same situation is with the three big hospitals of Rawalpindi i.e. Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, and the District Headquarters Hospital.

Patients from across the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Rawalpindi, and Sargodha Division with serious illnesses are being referred to these six big hospitals but owing to the non-availability of MRI machines, the patients have been left with no other option than to go to private hospitals and labs which charge them manifold.

The MRI machine, used for disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment monitoring, has not been working for the past many months, and according to officials, dozens of people with serious injuries and other problems are visiting the healthcare centres.

On the other hand, Polyclinic could not install the machine due to a lack of space. Moreover, the MRI machine at the NIRM is not open to the general public as it is dedicated for neurology-related patients.

Low-income patients undergo the tests free of charge at the PIMS, while those who can afford the tests pay over Rs 3,000. The same test costs around Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 in private diagnostic labs.

Poor patients have urged the federal as well as Punjab provincial governments for early arrangements of MRI machines in the public sector hospitals, saying that people with monthly incomes of Rs 15,000-35,000 cannot afford such expensive tests.

Moreover, Business Recorder has observed on various occasions that staff associated with operating the MRI machines and CT-Scans at government hospitals refuse to carry out their tests and ask them to visit private labs on the plea machines at public hospitals are not-functioning. Almost every other patient visiting these hospitals is also complaining the same.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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