ISLAMABAD: Tehsil headquarter hospitals (THQs) across the country lack basic medical facilities according to a report released by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).
The report, based on a survey conducted in August, revealed that more than half, 57%, of the 46 THQ hospitals did not have pathology departments for diagnosis of diseases. A neglect of female reproductive and children’s health was also noticed as 40% of the monitored hospitals lacked paediatrics department, while 38% were without gynaecology and obstetrics departments. Similarly, more than 90% of all monitored THQs lacked cardiology, dermatology and ear, nose and throat (ENT) departments. Over 80% lacked orthopaedic and chest departments, while 66% and 26% did not have ophthalmology and surgery departments respectively.
The report added that eight THQs did not have residential quarters for doctors and the same number lacked residential quarters for support staff on their premises.
Though good occupancy rates were observed for sanctioned posts of medical and non-medical staff, the report said the monitored THQs were reluctant to share information.
The survey monitored 27 THQs in Punjab and nine in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in 17 districts of each of the two provinces. Eight THQs were monitored in six districts in Sindh and two in as many districts in Balochistan.
Interestingly, the report revealed that of the 135 patients interviewed in the 46 THQs, 73% said they were satisfied with the availability of medical services and the availability and behaviour of doctors and support staff in the hospitals. Of the patients who were dissatisfied, eight complained of unavailability of doctors, 19 said they were not given enough time by their doctor, 14 complained about their doctors’ behaviour and 23 felt that they had not been provided the required support and guidance by the support staff.
A total of 35 patients reported that they did not receive free medicines from the in-house pharmacy as per their doctor’s prescription.
A senior doctor deputed in one of the THQs in Rawalpindi district, requesting anonymity, said that the THQ in Taxila has a radiology department but it lacks a radiologist and patients are asked to get ultrasounds and x-rays done from private hospitals or public hospitals in Rawalpindi, which are costlier.
He said that the hospital has two posts of gynaecologists of which one is empty and the gynaecologists only comes to the hospital in the morning and remains absent from work throughout the day. He said that nebulizers for asthma patients are only available in emergency ward, and patients admitted in wards are taken to the emergency department every time they require the facility.
Additionally, he said the laboratory does not operate around the clock, and neither does the hospital’s dispensary having life-saving medicines, which if required at night have to be brought from the market. “Given such conditions, one can imagine how deplorable would be the conditions of THQs based in far flung areas of the country,” he added.
When contacted, Young Doctors Association (YDA) Taxila President Dr Imran Younus refused to comment on the issue but said that it is the prime responsibility of the government to ensure all basic health facilities to
patients coming in THQs around the clock.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2011.
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