EDITORIAL: A common concern in this country is inadequate investment in the public healthcare system. Add to it mismanagement/misdirection and the big picture becomes more bleak. As a report in this newspaper points out only one major government-run hospital in the federal capital has a functional MRI — magnetic resonance imaging.

In all other facilities this scanning equipment used for disease diagnosis and treatment is either out of order or non-existent. As a consequence, patients are forced to turn to private facilities charging Rs 10,000 for a simple MRI test and Rs 25,000 for contrast scans, which the poor patients can ill-afford.

Furthermore, notes our report, hospital staff responsible for operating this vital medical tool refer the patients to private labs claiming that their machine is not functional, which suggests they deliberately lie to claim a share in the fees charged by private labs.

Similar if not worse is the situation in other government-run healthcare centres. In Lahore, for instance, a major 1500-bed teaching hospital, the Jinnah Hospital, has been running at 70 percent of its capacity for the last many months.

Several wards and operation theatres have been closed with the result that most of the patients are either being denied admission or moved to other wards, where the central air conditioning remains idle. Also, some 40 percent of its diagnostic test service is down and quite a few life-saving medicines unavailable to poor patients.

Same is the story of other hospitals, including the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Mayo Hospital, Services Hospital, Ganga Ram Hospital and Children’s Hospital. The conditions are so bad not only because of mismanagement but skewed government priorities.

The meagre resources that should have gone into improving healthcare facilities get misspent on a renovation project initiated by the then caretaker chief minister, Mohsin Naqvi. Shortly before leaving office, he had inaugurated brand new medical and administrative blocks at the Services Hospital, happily unveiling a plaque with his name on it. Likewise, refurbishment and reconstruction work is going on in other health centres, causing major disruptions in their routine tasks.

Amplifying the problem of inequitable health sector investments Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, who likes to put form over substance, has announced plans to acquire air ambulances, two planes and a helicopter, for the provincial emergency service to transport critical patients from far-flung areas to ‘specialised hospitals’ in big cities like Lahore. That would be a great idea but for the sorry state most ‘specialised’ hospitals are in. The governments at the Centre and in the provinces must get their priorities right.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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KU Jun 08, 2024 11:23am
This sad state of health is celebrated by the political dynasties as 3 decades of success, n pathetic status is true for other sectors as well, yet liars are allowed to take us towards destruction.
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