The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday criticised the provincial government’s performance in health sector and urged government leaders to improve the existing infrastructure instead of launching new programmes.
Provincial organiser Chaudhry Sarwar issued what he called a fact sheet regarding the government’s performance in the health sector. It came a day after the launch of Prime Minister’s National Health Scheme which Sarwar called as a “political stunt”.
Sarwar said that around 43 million people in the Punjab did not have access to basic health facilities. He said that only 10 per cent of the province’s population received free medicines. “Nearly half of the 2,450 basic health units are dysfunctional due to lack of resources. On average, there is just one doctor available for 1,700 patients.”
According to the fact sheet, the Punjab Institute of Cardiology keeps patients on a waiting list up to six months for angiography. “They have to wait for up to a year for a heart bypass surgery.”
Sarwar claimed that 24 per cent of the inactivated/inject-able polio vaccine (IPV) had been wasted under the Punjab Expanded Programme on Immunisation.
Sarwar said there were 202,000 neonatal deaths every year in Pakistan; 1,188 deaths a day were reported during child birth. He said 115 out of 100,000 women died while delivering a baby.
Citing statistics published by the Ministry of National Health Services, Sarwar claimed that 140,000 new cancer patients were admitted to hospitals every year. “Thirty district headquarters hospitals in the Punjab have no facilities for cancer patients… every eighth woman in the country is suffering from breast cancer.”
He said there was an acute shortage of oncologists at government hospitals.
The PTI leader said that in terms of the doctor-patient ratio, there were 100 nephrologists for 200 million people in Pakistan whereas there were more than 5,000 nephrologists for a population of 300 million in the United States. Equipment used for the treatment of kidney was out of order in approximately 80 per cent hospitals in the province.
“Instead of investing in new health programmes, the government should improve the existing infrastructure,” Sarwar said. He called on the government to ensure that a sufficient number of doctors were available at hospitals as well as other medical facilities. He stressed the need for ensuring free medicines at all public hospitals.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2016.