Pindi health authority chief sent packing

City’s hospitals under stress due to insufficient personnel, facilities at THQs


Jamil Mirza January 24, 2019
City’s hospitals under stress due to insufficient personnel, facilities at THQs. PHOTO: FILE

RAWALPINDI: The provincial chief executive on Wednesday sent the chief executive of the Rawalpindi District Health Authority and the deputy district health officer packing.

District Health Officer for Preventive Services Dr Naveed Akhtar has been given additional charge of the post.

The orders were issued by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar during a visit to the Kahuta Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ) on Wednesday.

The orders came after the District Health Authority (DHA) Chief Executive Officer Dr Khalid Mehmood formed a fact-finding committee to probe the alleged interference  of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) provincial lawmaker Raja Sagheer Ahmed.

Local Health Officer (LHO) Nighat Bibi and Deputy Kahuta District Health Officer Dr Farhat had filed an application with Dr Mehmood for an inquiry into Ahmed’s interference allegedly at the behest of his wife who is deployed in the district health office.

Subsequently, Dr Mehmood had tasked the District Tuberculosis (TB) Officer Dr Sajid Latif with investigating the matter and the district health authority was exploring options of approaching the Punjab Assembly speaker to seek promotion to summon Sagheer as part of the probe.

Shortage of facilities

A shortage of paramedical staff and medical equipment at three of the five Tehsil Headquarters Hospitals (THQs) of Rawalpindi district, along with a lack of budget allocated for the Wah GeneraL Hospital, means that these hospitals have been referring serious patients to the three allied hospitals in Rawalpindi, increasing the patient load at these facilities.

This was admitted by the former DHA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Mehmood, who was removed from his post on Wednesday.

Speaking to Daily Express before he was transferred, Dr Mehmood had stated that while they had filled vacant posts for medical officers at the THQs in Kahuta, Murree and Kotli Sattiyan, by hiring staff through the public service commission, they still face a shortage of paramedical staff, some doctors and medical equipment at these facilities.

The former DHA chief admitted that owing to the shortage of paramedics and equipment in the rural areas, a number of patients had been referred to hospitals in Rawalpindi, which had, in turn, increased the burden on healthcare facilities in the city.

According to hospital sources, last month around 900 patients had been referred to the District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) in Rawalpindi from the THQ in Kahuta alone.

Apart from the issue of missing facilities, the staff deployed at the THQs in Kahuta, Murree and Kotli Sattiyan do not have access to a residential block for their staff and they thus have to suffer long commute in public transport to reach their assigned facilities. The THQ staff, however, are paid a nominal monthly training allowance by the Punjab health department.

At the THQ in Taxila, sources say the anaesthetist system is defunct apart from the hospital lacking sufficient, essential medical equipment.

Medical and other facilities have been upgraded at the THQ in Gujjar Khan.

While the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had added 100-beds in a modern building of the Wah Cantt hospital, no budget had been allocated for the hospital by the Punjab finance department even though doctors, paramedical staff and medical equipment were available in sufficient numbers. This created a financial crisis for the hospital and work ground to a halt.

Even though, this hospital fulfils all requisites for the status of district headquarter.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2019.

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