In the country, issues relating to healthcare, including quality of medicines and medical equipment, keep cropping up. Sometimes there are grievances of inadequate healthcare facilities, and sometimes there are complaints of poor doctor-patient ratio. Now there are reports that in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, there is only one certified cardiologist to cater to a population of more than 37 million. Recently, this bitter ‘reality’ surfaced during the hearing of a case pertaining to substandard stents, at the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The apex court expressed annoyance with the performance of the provincial healthcare commission in this regard.
Indeed, the whole situation is appalling where one heart specialist is available for an entire province. And it’s surprising too that with such a poor cardiologist-patient ratio, last year 4,615 heart procedures had been performed in the province. The chief justice, heading a three-member bench that heard the case, felt anger at this state of affairs and said the chief executive officer of the K-P healthcare commission should take corrective measures, as it involves the question of human life. The CEO Punjab Healthcare Commission informed the court that in his province there were 40 certified cardiologists. Upon this, the chief justice said even this was inadequate, as there should be 40 cardiologists in a city like Lahore alone.
Another judge on the bench commented that the issue of cardiac diseases had become a business because of official negligence and sidelining of physicians and experts. A doctor claimed that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan did not approve stents okayed by the National Intervention Cardiology Board. The Supreme Court has ordered healthcare commissions of all four provinces to submit reports on stents. The issue of substandard stents had emerged in 2012 when several heart patients died at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, in Lahore due to insertion of alleged substandard stents.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2021.