Scepticism towards the healthcare industry is nothing new, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has revealed to us the extent of it. The world over, even in the normally thought of as ‘well-educated’ West, a significant segment of common citizens is willing to fight healthcare professionals on everything. From masks to social distancing to vaccines, all aspects of the coronavirus response — and many of the healthcare sector as a whole — have found themselves the victim of politics.
Pakistan, surprisingly, seems to be faring better as far as cooperation with healthcare providers in concern. But here we face a challenge that is slightly different. Our healthcare sector is abound with quacks and pretenders. Preying on the desperation of those with the least awareness and means, a host of despicable characters are involved in providing services that they have no right to provide. Take the recent chilling incident reported from Lahore’s Mayo Hospital. An 80-year-old woman died after a former security guard posing as a doctor performed surgery on her back wound. While the quack in question has been charged and taken into custody, how he came to pose as a surgeon in an otherwise reputable hospital is still a mystery.
But perhaps even more alarming is the statement from an unnamed hospital official on the incident. “We can’t keep up with what every doctor and what everyone is doing at all times. It’s a large hospital,” he was reported as saying. A detail that raises further questions is that a qualified technician was also allegedly present when the surgery took place.
When it comes to the question of quacks and bogus doctors, the efforts of our governments at the Centre and in provinces still seem to be lacking somehow. In this particular incident, however, it is the hospital that needs to answer the most. Big or small, healthcare is a sacred trust as evident by the oath every doctor takes. It would be absolutely abhorrent to try to forsake responsibility for what amounts to an old woman’s murder.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16h, 2021.