Jacobabad incident underlines need for upgrading district hospitals


KARACHI: After the deadly Shikarpur bomb blast last year people from all walks of life have appealed the provincial health department of Sindh to improve all district headquarter hospitals in Sindh, but the provincial government just paid lip-service to this genuine demand. This year the deadly bomb attack on Ashura mourners in Jacobabad has again highlighted the need of giving a serious attention to the government district headquarter hospitals of the province, whose people have been suffering unnecessarily due to apathy of visionless bureaucracy.

The Shikarpur bomb blast had exposed the capacity of the district headquarters hospital of Shikarpur as the injured were sent to the teaching hospitals of Larkana and Sukkur and many of them died on way to hospital. Later the remaining survivors were airlifted to Karachi. This year also same knee-jerk response of the provincial government was also seen after the Jacobabad incident as the injured were first rushed to Sukkur and Larkana and later the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) airlifted them to Karachi.

Improving and upgrading the district headquarter hospitals in Sindh has been an old demand of the citizens of this province but the rulers for the reasons best known to them are not ready to resolve the healthcare problems of their voters in rural areas and facilitate them near their doorsteps.

Not only after deadly road accidents, bomb blast and terrorism bids the seriously injured people are finally shifted to Karachi hospitals, but also during normal days the patients needing territory or emergency care are also shifted from all districts, saving Hyderabad, to Karachi as the government hospitals in all districts saving Hyderabad and Karachi lack proper territory or emergency care. Even the teaching hospitals of Larkana and Sukkur, sadly, lack proper mechanisms to serve patients as their professors and surgeons, generally, get fat salaries from the government kitty but work in privately owned medical centers, mostly their own property.

Medical fraternity has been demanding to upgrade district headquarters hospitals of Sindh. Both Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) have repeatedly demanded to raise technical capacity of the district hospitals in Sindh but in vain.

Many years back the Sindh governor, Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, has announced to upgrade all district headquarter hospitals of Sindh to the teaching hospital level, but sadly like many other important plans of the Sindh governor like Pedestrianization of Saddar, Karachi, this visionary plan is yet to be implemented.

Medical fraternity feels that the provincial government is fully capable financially and technically to upgrade the district headquarters hospitals of Sindh as after the 18th amendment and National Financial Awards money and funding is no more a serious problem. However, the main issue is the corrupt bureaucracy who will be deprived of its commission and kickbacks, as when seriously injured survivors of bomb blasts, terrorism incidents and road accidents are shifted to the costly private hospitals of Karachi, it is the Sindh government that foots the huge medical bills of these hospitals. Providing trauma care facilities to people in district hospitals means less profit for these private medical centers and less commission for their patrons in the ranks of bureaucracy. The medical fraternity argues this is why that even the police hospital in Karachi is not being upgraded as a trauma care center.

However, irrespective of the financial loss to handful of corrupt people the citizens of Sindh would be greatly benefited if the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) government led by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah with a respectable senior medical professional Dr Mahtab Hussain Dahar as provincial health minister takes war footing steps to upgrade the district hospitals of the province to teaching hospital level with emphasis to emergency and trauma care facilities.