LARKANA: Kidney patients, who visit Chandka Medical College Hospital to have dialysis, were in for a shock on Wednesday after learning that eight out of 14 dialysis machines at the nephrology unit had stopped working after developing faults while 20 new machines had been gathering dust in the hospital’s store for two years.

In-charge of the nephrology unit Dr Zahid Ali Shaikh confirmed to Dawn that in all, 10 machines had developed faults but two were repaired on Tuesday.

The unit provided dialysis facility to not only patients of Larkana division but also patients from Jafferabad, Balochistan, and bordering areas of Punjab, he said.

He said the unit had capacity to attend to 50-60 patients when it was fully functional, but at present it could handle hardly 40 patients.

Sources in the hospital said that unfortunately, protocol for dialysis was not being observed as it required four hours to complete a round but due to rush and faulty machines and pressure of patients’ attendants the single round was being completed within two hours.

The in-charge confirmed it and admitted that it might increase impurities in the body which the dialysis was meant to bring down.

Patients’ pressure heightened by incidents of attacks and insults hurled on doctors had led to this situation, he said.

Presently, 250 patients were registered with the unit. The gravity of the problem had further deepened as the reverse osmosis system’s output had also gone down.

The unit’s in-charge had conveyed the situation to medical superintendent of CMCH in a series of letters but in vain, said the sources.

Dr Shaikh wrote on Oct 22 in a letter to MS with caption ‘most urgent’ that warned “in the event of any emergency/casualty hospital administration will be responsible”.

The issue had also been conveyed to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University vice chancellor, Larkana commissioner, deputy commissioner and others.

The unit had also run short of a solution needed in the dialysis and filters of RO system had become defective, he said.

The nephrology unit handled ever-growing numbers of kidney patients in spite of lethargic attitude of health managers whose pathetic performance could be gauged from the fact that 16 newly purchased dialysis machines had been lying in the hospital’s store for two years and lately four more had arrived, raising the number to 20 of the machines gathering dust, said the sources.

The sources said the reason behind deliberate delay in installing the machines had become a mystery as recently a team of engineers visited the hospital and began work on installing the new machines in consultation with the doctor concerned but they stopped it halfway without citing any reasons.

Meanwhile, attendants of the kidney patients demonstrated outside the unit on Tuesday and spoke about the plight of patients who came to the hospital from remote areas.

They demanded the faulty machines be repaired immediately to lessen their suffering.

As the number of patients continues to rise, the delay will further add to doctors’ problems.

The hospital MS was out of reach and not available for comments.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2019