The paediatric ward at Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) is being forced to cater to 50 more patients than it is capable of.
According to Dr Asif Qadir Mir, medical superintendent at BBH, the paediatric ward has 60 beds at its emergency station and at any given time more than 80 patients are admitted there.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mir said the ward has to adjust two patients on a single bed usually.
“Although beds installed at the ward are meant for adults and can accommodate two children patients, but still the situation is far from ideal,” he said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, doctors at the paediatric ward said the condition of the relevant ward is far from acceptable.
Highlighting multiple issues plaguing the ward, a doctor said as per Pakistan Medical Dental Council guidelines, an acceptable doctor to patient ratio should stand at 1:30 however the Outdoor Patient Department receives 250 visitors against only two or three doctors available to treat them.
Terming sanitary and hygiene conditions in the ward as pathetic, doctors said a 60-beded unit has only two washrooms and event hose are in deplorable condition.
According to the doctors, at present 15 postgraduate trainees are working in the ward during regular working hours, and only 2-3 doctors are deployed for round-the-clock on-call duty.
“We are facing a severe shortage of technical and non-technical staff and other facilities as we have to keep even 3-4 babies in one incubator,” the doctor added.
Among other issues, the ward does not even have a security guard deployed at its main entrance, leaving newborns at a high risk of being stolen.
Moreover, a broken water pipeline seems to run right through ward’s basement, often leaving it full of over-flown water and rendering the rooms completely unusable.
“We had to install a water pump to take out water regularly as it has become a regular exercise for our sanitary staff to clean up this section of the building,” said the doctor.
Doctors were of the opinion that budget allocation for the health sector has been meagre.
“The actual issue is that of in-migration and over-population which has resulted in a significant mismatch of supply and demand,” said a doctor.
According to the doctors, trainees are forced to leave and look for options elsewhere after competition of their training period as the system does not accommodate them. In absence of any alternatives, some of the postgraduate doctors even work for free at the hospital in hopes of finding a permanent job.
Doctors were of the opinion that the health system prevailing at the government level exhibits a capitalist mindset where private practitioners and expensive hospitals are given the leeway to make hefty profits in absence of equivalent public sector health service.
“During the last several years, not even a single new public sector hospital has been built in this city by any of the governments to cater to the needs of an ever increasing population,” said a doctor.
According Mir, the government has recently approved a scheme of Rs50 million to revamp the paediatric ward. “Work is expected to begin in this financial year,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.