LARKANA: Only 10 haemodialysis machines working at the nephrology unit in Chandka Medical College Hospital (CMCH) fail to cater to burgeoning number of patients while 12 new machines sit idle in the hospital’s store for over a year and no plan is in sight to make use of them to ease pressure on the limited number of machines, according to sources.

In-charge of the unit Dr Zahid Ali Shaikh confirmed to Dawn on Saturday that six out of the 14 machines installed in the unit were out of order as of Saturday and only two had been repaired by technicians called in from Sukkur. Now only 10 machines were operational, he said.

The unit catered to the needs of patients from upper Sindh and bordering areas of Balochistan and Punjab and badly needed to be upgraded, he said, adding that when all 14 machines were fully operational they could serve 60 patients a day.

Presently hardly 40 to 45 patients were provided the service and the load of unattended patients continued to rise. Sometimes, patients’ attendants hold protest demonstrations against faulty machines which caused further delays and many patients had to be refused the service, putting the management in a tight spot, he said.

Unprofessional handling of washing of machines in the absence of standby power generator had led to damage to the dialysis machines though it required only bleach to wash them. But the hospital managers in past had seldom provided it, said sources in the unit.

Another machine with minor faults which hardly needed Rs65,000 to be made operational was gathering rust and the hospital management was reluctant to bear the meagre repair cost, said the sources.

The sources said that one failed to understand why the 12 dialysis machines purchased a year ago and presently lying idle in the hospital store had not been installed at the unit. Both the in-charge of the unit and the medical superintendent had admitted to the existence of the new machines but were tight-lipped over the questions about their installation.

However, it was learnt that the former medical superintendents had been informing the health department time and again and conveyed to even secretaries the situation but in vain. At one stage the company that had provided the machines had agreed to send engineers to install the machines but they did not turn up due to unknown reasons, said the sources in the nephrology unit.

The sources in the nephrology unit were sceptical about the warranty of machines as it could have already expired for having remained idle for a whole year.

The in-charge of the unit Dr Shaikh reminded the MS in a letter on June 21 that the 12 dialysis machines had been lying in the main store of CMCH for one year and had not been installed yet.

A reverse osmosis system was also lying there, he said, adding that he had drawn attention of different heads of the institutions to it but they did not pay any heed. The small number of machines could not meet the needs of the burgeoning number of patients and the existing RO system too went out of order, he said.

He called for immediate installation of the 12 machines and the RO system to ease problems of patients and said that one online RO system should also be installed. However, a source said that two RO systems were immediately required in the dialysis unit to meet the demand.

The nephrology unit also faced shortage of staff including technicians to run hepatitis C, HIV and negative machines. There was no female attendant to look after female patients as the one working there earlier had been recently transferred to the department of psychiatry, he said.

He said that all the 14 dialysis machines were running without power stabilisers which could lead to the machines developing faults. Without independent standby power generator the costly machines and the RO system could get damaged during power fluctuation, he said.

Dr Zahid said that in another letter to the MS he had pointed out non-supply of AV fistula needles which the patients were purchasing from their own sources.

AV fistula needles, repair of faulty RO system, installation of 12 machines and recruitment of staff at the unit were urgently needed, he said.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2019