The dismal state of Charsadda’s main public health care provider, District Headquarters (DHQ) hospital, can be gauged from the fact that only 33 doctors are available for nearly 1,000 patients who visit its out-patients department each day.
The DHQ has 63 posts set aside for doctors, however, 30 of these seats are lying vacant.
According to data collected from the district health office, seven posts for specialist doctors such as cardiologists, anaesthesiologists, orthopaedic surgeons and psychiatrists are also vacant.
District Health Officer Dr Nawaz, who also serves as the medical superintendent of the district hospital, told The Express Tribune the hospital faces immense difficulties due to the shortage of medical staff and that its administration has approached the provincial health department to fill the relevant vacancies.
“On average, nearly 1,000 patients come to the OPD every day, but the existing staff is insufficient to cater to their needs,” said Dr Nawaz.
According to the medical superintendent, nearly five out of 22 senior medical officers serving at the DHQ hospital have also been providing medico-legal services in various courts, putting an extra burden on the remaining hospital staff.
Aside from staff shortage, a lack of medical equipment has also been reported at the DHQ hospital, with patients having to visit privately-run laboratories for medical tests and scans.
Two other government-run health facilities, the tehsil headquarters hospitals of Tangi and Shabqadar, tell a similar tale.
In 2012, Civil Hospital was upgraded to Shabqadar Tehsil Headquarters Hospital. New medical blocks and several wards were built and 40 junior staffers were appointed. However, the new construction is the only thing the hospital can boast of.
As many as 10 posts of doctors are lying vacant in the tehsil hospital, including that of orthopaedic surgeons as well as ear, nose and throat specialists. Moreover, there is only one child specialist currently working at the THQ hospital.
DHO Dr Nawaz confirmed the lack of doctors in Shabqadar as well as Tangi Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, adding Tangi hospital did not even have a gynaecologist or paediatrician.
When contacted, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA from Charsadda Muhammad Arif Ahmadzai said the problem of staff shortage is not just limited to the district but the entire province.
Ahmadzai maintained the provincial government is planning to appoint 400 specialists soon. He claimed he had transferred an orthopaedic surgeon to Shabqadar but he went on leave which is why THQ hospital does not have one at the moment.
“The PTI government is doing its best to overcome these shortages and provide modern equipment to hospitals. There are many policy-related hurdles in all departments and the PTI is working to remove them,” added Ahmadzai.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2014.
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