NCOC advice needed to open OPDs in capital, NA told

Updated 14 Jul 2020

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Parliamentary secretary says OPDs were closed on recommendation of WHO. — Dawn/File
Parliamentary secretary says OPDs were closed on recommendation of WHO. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary Secretary on Health Dr Nausheen Hamid on Monday said outpatient departments (OPDs) of public sector hospitals in the capital will be opened as per advice of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19.

Replying to a calling attention notice on the floor of the National Assembly, she said the OPDs were closed as per advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO). She expressed the hope that the NCOC will decide about opening the OPDs soon as Covid-19 cases have decreased.

The calling attention notice was submitted by ruling party MNA Ali Nawaz Awan. Addressing the minister for National Health Services [Prime Minister Imran Khan], Mr Awan said due to the closure of the OPDs people were suffering in the city.

The OPDs were closed in March to avoid the spread of Covid-19. Later, the OPD of Polyclinic was opened but the decision could not be implemented at Pims as renovation of its OPD had been started by then. The OPD of Polyclinic was later also closed as some of the healthcare providers contracted the virus.

Parliamentary secretary says OPDs were closed on recommendation of WHO and hopefully NCOC will decide on it as Covid-19 cases are decreasing

Mr Awan, while speaking on the floor of the House, said the population of Islamabad is 2.2 million but there are only two major hospitals.

“Around 10,000 people daily visit the OPD of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) and 6,000 patients visit Polyclinic. However, OPDs of both the hospitals are closed for the last four months. The chief justice of Pakistan has also given an observation to open OPDs. Though an excuse is given that OPDs have been closed due to Covid-19, a number of other patients such as those with heart diseases and even appendix patients can die. I request the speaker to give observation for the opening of the OPDs,” he said.

The parliamentary secretary said the OPDs were closed as per the advice of the WHO.

“We have a trend that more than one attendant comes to hospital along with a patient. Though I agree that patients have been facing difficulties but the emergency departments of the hospitals remain open. Patients can visit emergency departments any time as operations are also being conducted through emergency departments,” she said.

The parliamentary secretary hoped that the OPDs would be opened soon as the Covid-19 cases were decreasing and there were only 60 Covid-19 patients at Pims. However, she said the decision regarding opening of the OPDs will be made at the platform of NCOC.

Protest of doctors at Pims

Meanwhile, doctors of Pims on Monday held a protest against the management of the hospital and demanded removal of Executive Director Dr Ansar Maxood.

Young Doctors Association Pims Vice President Dr Faiz Achakzai told Dawn that last year over Rs780 million had been allocated to increase the salaries of doctors but the funds lapsed as the management could not manage to notify the pay increase.

He said Pims was the only hospital in which 300 house officers were working without getting stipends and even health risk allowance. Moreover, he said, doctors were not being allowed to do specialisation.

“On Monday, we held a meeting with Dr Maxood but he could not give us a satisfactory reply over the issue,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2020