Unscheduled and prolonged power outages coupled with the extreme hot weather and humidity have resulted in sudden increase in the number of asthma patients in the twin cities. All public hospitals of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have experienced a sudden surge in the number of patients with this common complaint.
At the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), on an average 50 per cent patients visiting the outpatient department (OPD), and over 40 patients a day admitted to the emergency ward, suffer from various forms of asthma. Similarly, 40 per cent of the 200 patients admitted to the emergency ward in Polyclinic Hospital, are asthma patients.
Moreover, in Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH), Holy Family Hospital (HFH), District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ) on an average, above 40 patients a day are coming in with asthmatic problems, according to the data collected from various public hospitals in the twin cities,
While talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Asadullah Nemati, a senior chest specialist at Pims, said the majority of patients visiting the OPD have breathing problems. “For the first time in my professional life, I have witnessed an influx of asthma patients in summers,” he said. Asthma patients come in droves in winter as asthma is mainly considered to be a winter disease but due to variations in weather patterns, air pollution and prolonged load shedding, the scenario has changed, Dr Nemati added.
The doctors said that some of the patients are complaining of anxiety attacks. “They suffer from shortness of breath mostly which may be caused by deprivation of basic necessities of life which includes water, gas, electricity along with sky-rocketing inflation,” they said.
Dr Aftab Akhtar, consultant pulmonologist at Shifa International Hospital, said during prolonged power outage people usually open their windows and doors to be able to breathe but the polluted air results in various forms of asthma and allergies. Even a person, who has never suffered from asthma before, becomes prone to it and other communicable disease which includes tuberculosis as well.
Meanwhile, a senior pulmonologist at one of the allied hospitals, requesting anonymity, said the government is responsible for people’s deteriorating health. He said it was unfortunate that wards in some government hospitals lack proper ventilation and alternatives for electricity during prolonged power outage. In these wards, there is a huge crowd of patients along with their attendants which results in a suffocating atmosphere.
The majority of equipment used for treating asthma patients, such as nebulisers, run on electricity which also adds to patients’ miseries.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.
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