Lack of facilities in district hospitals haunts patients


Karachi: Lack of facilities in district headquarter hospitals of Sindh are not only haunting poor patients but also increasing burden on government sector tertiary-care hospitals of Karachi, especially Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).

Presently more than 90 percent of admitted and emergency patients in both these major government-run hospitals are shifted there from interior Sindh as no proper facilities are available in these areas. Though the government of Sindh is running teaching hospitals in Larkana, Sukkur, Nawabshah and Hyderabad, but saving the teaching hospitals of Hyderabad the performance of the teaching hospitals at Larkana, Sukkur and Nawabshah is not up to the mark.

Many poor patients after wasting their time and money in these teaching hospitals are finally compelled to shift their patients to Karachi, which is a very costly affair and poor villagers in such emergencies have to sell their livestock and even houses to save the life of their near and dear ones. However, in most cases even this sacrifice proves too late. The government of Sindh fully knows that a medical emergency for a poor village family means deprivation of their life-long saving and means of their livelihood, livestock. If better medical facilities including emergency is provided at least at district headquarter level many of such families could be saved from a total financial destruction.

The poor state of affairs in the teaching hospitals of Sukkur, Larkana and Nawabshah is fully known to the provincial health department. The main reason is mismanagement, apathy, political interference in postings – and corruption. Many management level doctors and surgeons are near retirement age when they led their institutions and their main interest in naturally to secure their after-retirement future. As they have to serve for a couple of more years they do not take full interest in improving the basic service delivery of their hospitals and fighting corruption and apathy.

Many senior professors and surgeons are more concerned about their lucrative private practices. Paramedical staff is mostly corrupt, interested only to loot and fleece poor patients under different pretexts. The so-called associations of these corrupt people go on strike if the management takes action against them. This is the reason why the government of Sindh withdrew its bold decision to hand over some government hospitals to reputed NGOs for their better management. If the government of Sindh and its health minister are really sincere they should outsource the paramedical services in as many hospitals as they can. There should also be a law to ban the associations that are blackmailing the government to save their corrupt office-bearers. The government also needs to end the private practice of government doctors and surgeons for good. It should offer them better pay packages but they should give their sole attention on their government duties and not to split time and energy between the government job and private practices.

Many years back the government has announced to upgrade all district headquarter hospitals of Sindh to teaching hospital level, but sadly this pro-people decision is yet to be implemented. Sindh health minister Jam Mahtab Dahar should expedite this vision of the PPPP government to provide healthcare facilities to people near their doorsteps by upgrading all district headquarter hospitals to teaching hospital level. He would be remembered in the history of Sindh if he could take efforts to make this dream come true.