ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government has conceded before the Supreme Court that 373 of the 3,334 pieces of medical equipment, including ventilators, are out of order in 44 tertiary-level hospitals in the province.

In a report submitted to the court on Wednesday, the provincial government said that due to extensive load and round-the-clock usage, some of the equipments developed faults, but these were repaired by biomedical engineering departments of hospitals or their suppliers.

The apex court is seized with a suo motu case relating to the alleged misappropriation in supply of medicines as well as provision of oxygen and nitrogen gases to the patients in the Federal Government Services Hospital (FGSH), popularly known as Poly Clinic.

Expressing disappointment over the state of healthcare in public sector hospitals, the Supreme Court had at the last hearing on Aug 12 directed the four provincial governments to submit reports on the state of laboratories and equipment in hospitals.

In its report, the Punjab government said 122 of the 885 ventilators in different hospitals of Punjab were dysfunctional, while 70 of the 582 anesthesia machines were not working properly. Likewise, four of the 39 CT scan machines are not working. There are 513 dialysis machines in the province, but 26 are not functioning. Out of 723 ECG machines, 75 are out of order, while 38 of the 269 ultra-sonography machines and 38 of the 258 X-Ray machines are dysfunctional.

However, all the nine MRI machines and 56 oxygen and nitrous central supply machines are functioning properly in different hospitals of the province, according to the report. Similarly, most of the diagnostic equipments like automatic pipette, blood cell separator, blood gas analyser, centrifuge machine, fully automatic coagulation analyser, fully automatic chemistry analyser, hematology analyser, hemoglobin digital meter, micro-incubator, plasma extractor, platelet rotary, etc, are functioning properly.

The report said that 90 per cent of the medical equipments were in functional state while the rest with minor faults were repaired within the shortest possible time. However, in case of major defects, the required parts are imported because spare parts of high-tech medical equipment are only available with the manufacturers or sole agents.

The report said that all the tertiary care hospitals were equipped with the required medical equipments necessary for teaching/training of medical students and treatment of patients.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2016

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