LAHORE: A critical shortage of anaesthetics has hit the public as well as private hospitals of Lahore hard allegedly due to the gross incompetence and negligence of the health authorities concerned.

Because of the shortage, the doctors are postponing hundreds of surgeries at these hospitals, putting the lives of the critical patients, especially in emergency wards, at risk.A senior official says the health secretary is misstating the facts by declaring that only the Services Hospital Lahore is facing an acute shortage of anaesthetics.

However, he says, all major government sector hospitals are trying hard to procure the drug from the market after the vendors stopped official supplies citing historic rise in the US dollar’s rate against the local currency.

Hundreds of surgeries postponed

The suppliers have refused to provide more drug consignments at the price decided while signing of the contracts with the government, the official says, adding that taking notice of the situation health secretary Ali Jan has directed the heads of these institutes to try and arrange the drug on their own instead of making the issue public.

Consequently, he says, the crisis that started two weeks back has deepened due to the critical shortage of the Isoflurane drug in the government hospitals of Lahore. Isoflurane is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for the inducing and maintenance of general anesthesia.

The official says the Services Hospital Lahore had to purchase some 20 vials of the drug from a private hospital to perform surgeries of critical patients at the A&E, orthopedic, neurology, paediatric and other units of the institute. The hospital had submitted a request for 1,000 drug vials (units) to the private hospital, but it refused to provide the medicine in such a large quantity, he adds.

Quoting administration of the private health facility, he says the medicine is also in short supply in the market and they have stocks only to meet its own needs.

He says the situation was not much different in the Mayo Hospital, Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, and Shaikh Zayed Hospital in Lahore.A spokesperson for the health department say the authorities concerned have taken notice of the anesthesia drug shortage in the government hospitals and managed to provide it to a teaching hospital, while efforts are underway to address the issue.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2022

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