BAHAWALPUR: Patients visiting the Bahawal Victoria Hospital, named after the charitable Nawab of Bahawalpur and Queen Victoria, are unable to avail even basic facilities such as free medication.
Ailing citizens are provided with tablets for the flu or for headaches. Medications used inside the operation theatre have to be bought from private stores.
Meanwhile, senior doctors have set up their own private practices. As a result, many patients visiting the facility have lost faith in the hospital’s outpatient department (OPD). Patients visiting the OPD have to wait for hours before a doctors arrives on duty. Despite this, many patients said that doctors also leave early.
Two die due to medicine shortage
Azhar Anwar, a resident of Badar Shah, expresses that he had to take his son to the OPD for a check-up. However, the doctor on duty arrived late. Due to the large number of patients waiting in line, his turn never came, he maintains.
Reportedly, the district’s biggest hospital, with a whopping 1, 535 beds, has been facing an acute shortage of medicines for the past two months. Even insulin is not available while medications used in operations theatres are procured from private stores and pharmacies at the government’s expense.
Muhammad Talha, a resident of Muhammadia Colony, says his mother is admitted at the hospital. “The most basic medicines are not available at the hospital. I have to buy all of them from private medical stores,” he says.
Similarly, Salman Bajwa, a resident of Liaquatpur, states that he had to have a surgery after he fractured his arm. However, his family was forced to purchase all the medicines required for the surgery from a private pharmacy. Constructed at a cost of millions of rupees, the Cardiac Centre at the hospital does not have a surgeon.
As a result, open heart surgeries and angiographies are being delayed indefinitely. Moreover, the 30-bed facility lacks paramedical staff overall due to which dozens of citizens are at risk of losing their lives.
On the other hand, the Kidney Centre, the surgical wards, the gynaecology department and the paediatric department are also facing many issues due to a shortage of medicines for the past two months. The MRI machine at the hospital goes out of order every other day and has not been properly repaired. Fauji Basti resident Waqar Khalid adds that his mother has been diagnosed with diabetes and buys insulin from the hospital.
Bahawalpur dispensaries bereft of medicine
However, for the past few weeks we have not been able to buy insulin at the hospital, he says. Residents demanded that the Punjab chief minister take notice of the issue and provide medical facilities to the people in the area.
When contacted by The Express Tribune, Bahawal Victoria Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Azizur Rehman said that the hospital has purchased medicines worth Rs870 million. The medicines have been sent to the drug laboratory for testing. After they are cleared, the pharmacy at the hospital will have more than 270 different types of medicines available. He dismissed reports that there is a shortage of medicines at the hospital.
“Reports circulating in the media about a shortage of medicine at the hospital are, in fact, about a notification issued on the fees for laboratory and radiology tests, which the government has stopped implementing.”
Aside from this, the medical superintendent has established a media desk at the facility which will be responsible for liaising with the press.