Elective surgeries curtailed in major govt hospitals because of Covid-19, SHC told

Published September 5, 2021
A file view of the Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — Dawn
A file view of the Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — Dawn

KARACHI: The provincial health authorities have informed the Sindh High Court that they have curtailed and rescheduled surgeries to some extent in major public hospitals because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, they admitted that no operation theatre was functional at the Sindh Government Hospital New Karachi.

When a two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh took up a set of identical petitions against the non-provision of treatment to general patients at the government and private health facilities for hearing, the health secretary filed a report in compliance with the SHC order passed on the last hearing.

In the previous hearing, the SHC in its order said that the provincial law officers sought time to file a comprehensive report about the status of operation theatres of government hospitals in Sindh as there was a hue and cry by the public at large that in the garb of Covid-19 most government hospitals’ operation theatres had been closed by the respective administrations. The SHC issued a directive to the health authorities to file a report on next hearing.

‘All emergency, orthopaedic and gynaecological surgeries are being performed regularly’

At the outset of the hearing, the health secretary filed a report regarding 15 government hospitals in the province and it contended that there were two types of operation theatres in public health facilities, emergency operation theatres and operation theatres of elective surgeries.

The report further contended that until one month back all elective as well as emergency surgeries were being conducted at the Civil Hospital Karachi, but since then some elective surgeries had been curtailed and rescheduled due to the burden of Covid-19 patients. All emergency and orthopaedic and gynaecological surgeries were being performed regularly.

Around 30 per cent elective surgeries at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre had been curtailed and major elective surgeries at the Lyari General Hospital had also been suspended due to the heavy load of Covid-19 patients, it maintained.

The report further said that the operation theatre at the Sindh Government Hospital New Karachi was not functioning as the anaesthetists had been transferred to the Expo Centre for Covid-19 duties while only one operation theatre was working at the Services Hospital and the remaining two would be made operational after Covid-19.

The health authorities claimed that OTs at the remaining government hospitals in the province were operational, but PCR test and vaccination certificates were essential in some hospitals for elective surgeries.

The petitioners, advocates Asim Iqbal, Nadeem Shaikh and others had approached the SHC last year and earlier this year and contended that the government and private sector hospitals were not providing first aid or any other kind of treatment to general patients due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

They argued that instead of providing first aid or emergency treatment to patients suffering from different diseases, accidents or other sudden ailments, the health facilities were asking them to provide the coronavirus test results first. That demand delayed the treatment and not only caused death of several patients, but also spread panic in the public that they would not be attended to in an emergency situation at hospitals.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2021

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