Despite claims of spending millions annually on health care facilities in rural areas of the province, the lone hospital in Khanpur does not have even enough doctors to cater to residents.
The Khanpur Civil Hospital is supposed to cater to the needs of locals but lack of medical care has forced villagers to head to other cities for professional treatment including Taxila, Wah, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The absence of proper facilities has resulted in casualties related to road accidents. The hospital was commissioned as a rural health centre in the mid 1980s and upgraded to a Type D hospital by former MMA chief minister Akram Khan Durrani during a visit to Khanpur in 2007. A new building was constructed and facilities for indoor patients upgraded from 20 to 50 beds. However, the number of doctors available remained the same and the annual budget was reportedly not enhanced either.
Informed sources stated that the hospital needs to set aside a minimum of Rs2 million for medicines and earmark a separate budget for emergency care, under health policies. Furthermore, to maintain Type D status, there should be eight medical officers on the staff, including four lady doctors. Gynaecologists, surgeons and child specialists are required, according to an official source. Currently, three doctors, one of which is a female, have been running the hospital for several years. Despite complaints, vacancies have not been filled. New X-ray lab machinery has not been used.
Gulshad, a Khanpur resident, reflecting on the maintenance of status quo at the hospital, said elected representatives had always regarded them as second-class citizens. “We are taxpayers too and entitled to the same rights as people [in other cities],” added Raja Tahir Mehmood, a social worker. He added that every patient brought for emergency treatment has to be transferred to Taxila, Wah cantonment, Rawalpindi or Islamabad because of the shortage of qualified medical staff. According to Mehmood, 80% of emergency patients die on the way to other cities. He accused district health authorities of an indifferent attitude towards residents.
According to health authorities, protestors who ransacked the hospital and set a portion of it ablaze due to the lack of support afforded to a political worker, inflicted losses of over Rs6 million. Because the machinery and ambulances could not be repaired, problems faced by people have since multiplied.
When approached for comments, Executive District Officer Health Dr Mazhar Shah confirmed that the Khanpur hospital was understaffed and offered inadequate facilities and did not qualify for the status of a Type D hospital. He informed The Express Tribune that provincial health authorities had been contacted for the necessary funding and required staff.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2011.
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