The federal capital does not have any paediatric cardiologists and a paediatric surgical centre in any of its public hospitals, putting at risk lives of many children who want medical attention but cannot afford private treatment.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a senior paediatrician at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said on the condition of anonymity that almost every week, the children’s hospital at Pims receives 15 to 20 children who urgently require a cardiac surgery but are refused treatment due to the unavailability of the facility.
A majority of them, he said, cannot afford to take their children to private hospitals therefore they usually try to keep them alive by giving them heavy doses of medicines which eventually results in their death.
“This is another major cause of infant mortality in the country and needs to be addressed on a war footing to save innocent lives. But it seems like it is not the priority of the government,” he said.
Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABU) Pims Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Javed Akram said the hospital administration is in the process of hiring paediatric cardiologists for which they have already placed advertisements in newspapers.
“Parents who cannot afford taking their children to private hospitals are forced to suffer,” he said.
Mohammad Fareed is one such parent who has been struggling for the past month and a half, first in finding a paediatric surgeon and now to gather money to get his six-month-old daughter treated. Fareed’s daughter, Mayra, has a rare condition of dextrocardia, in which her heart is on the right side of her chest and is in the wrong position which causes difficulty in breathing.
“I took my daughter to Polyclinic hospital but was informed that the hospital lacks this treatment facility and was referred to Pims, where I got the same answer and was referred to Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology and from there to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC),” said Fareed while talking to The Express Tribune.
At AFIC, however, he found a paediatric cardiac surgeon who assured him that he will operate on his daughter but has asked him to deposit Rs375, 000 before November 9, the date of the operation.
“I feel helpless when I see my six-month-old daughter suffering just because I do not have enough money for her treatment,” he said.
He said he was trying to collect the said amount but is still struggling, adding that the surgeon’s assistant has told him that if he fails to deposit the money on time the operation will not go through.
Being the sole bread earner of the family, Fareed has six mouths to feed in his meagre income.
For now, Fareed has sleepless nights as he thinks of ways to keep his daughter alive.
Philanthropists can contact Fareed at 0347-5301799, it might help save a young girl’s life.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2014.