No treatment facilities: In Pindi, heart patients have to get by on medicines

Public hospitals ill-equipped, Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology yet to be functional.

Sehrish Wasif June 13, 2012


It looks like patients of ischemic heart diseases in Rawalpindi will continue to suffer due to the absence of treatment facilities in public hospitals. At least till August, when the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) is finally expected to be complete.

These patients who suffer from a spectrum of diseases caused by decreased oxygen supply to the myocardium, a muscle of the heart, are currently being treated by medicines due to a lack of required facilities in the public hospitals of the city.

According to the data collected from the allied hospitals, from January to May 31, 18,800 is the number of heart patients who urgently need angiography. These comprise 9,700 in Benazir Bhutto Hospital, 6,800 in Holy Family Hospital and 2,300 in District Headquarter Hospital.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, a senior cardiologist, at one of the allied hospitals, said heart patients were being treated with just medicines at public hospitals in Rawalpindi. Even though there are dedicated cardiology departments, they lack cardiac theatres due to which surgeries cannot be performed, nor do they have catheterisation laboratories. They do not even offer fluoroscopy, he said.

The doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, said about 50% of the heart patients are above 60 and they suffer from curable ailments such as angina and myocardial infarctions, but they have no other option except to take medication. Many cannot afford to seek treatment from private hospitals or to travel to other cities.

“Some of the patients die a silent death because they could not get the required treatment on time,” he said. It is very unfortunate the RIC is still not functional which clearly reflects the government’s negligence of basic health facilities, he added. The 270-bed RIC was supposed to be functional by June 2011.

At present in the twin cities, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences is the only one offering all these services but its department is already overcrowded with patients.

According to the information gathered from some private and semi-government hospitals, a heart patient would on average have to pay Rs10,000 as admission fee, Rs40,000 for an angiography, whereas an angioplasty or a bypass would cost between Rs150,000 to Rs 400,000.

When contacted, Prof. Dr Muhammad Musaddaq Khan Principal RMC & Allied Hospitals Rawalpindi agreed that the delay in the completion of the RIC had seriously inconvenienced heart patients.

He said that the building which is located in the Rawalpindi Medical College Staff Colony had been constructed. “The government will advertise the jobs in the leading dailies within a day or two, while the equipment will be in  place by July 15,” he said. The institute will be fully functional by the first week of August, he added.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.

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