LAHORE: The paediatric burn unit of Mayo Hospital has been hit hard by an acute shortage of life-saving and other essential medical supplies, apparently owing to paucity of funds, forcing attendants of poor patients to turn to private markets.
Mayo’s paediatric burn unit is the only critical centre for minors in any public health facility of the city.
It recently made headlines when a minor girl, Aleezy, shifted here from Okara with critical burn injuries was allegedly denied admission by three government hospitals in the city — Jinnah Hospital had made an excuse that it had no facility for burnt children despite housing the largest burn unit, which, according to its policy, only catered to adults.
Aleezy was later shifted to Mayo Hospital when Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi took notice of the criminal negligence. However, she died of her wounds allegedly owing to delayed treatment. At that time, the CM had issued directions to ensure that no minor patient was denied admission and that hospitals offered free treatment.
Attendants of poor patients forced to turn to costly options in private markets
An official said the issue cropped up again when Mayo Hospital’s only burn unit for minors faced a severe shortage of medicines. He said the worst part was that the largest public teaching institute was not even providing dressings/bandages officially to minor patients owing to shortages and other reasons.
Quoting some medical experts, the official said it was very important to treat burn wounds and dressings played a key role in reducing pain and infection.
“A superficial dermal burn requires a dressing to absorb fluid, avoid maceration and seal the wound from the outside environment,” he explained, adding an under-treatment child required their burns to be bandaged every day to help the wound heal faster and prevent infection.
There were several types of dressings for burns, he said, adding that unfortunately, they were in short supply for several months, and the hospital administration was unable to ensure their supply.
Those dressings unavailable in the official ‘Indent Book’ included those used on a variety of wounds; hydrocolloid dressing for management of lightly exuding wounds; for treatment of low to moderately exuding wounds, including leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, superficial burns, superficial partial-thickness burns, etc; and those used for acute and hard-to-heal wounds.
According to the Indent Book, a copy of which was also available with Dawn and that showed the unavailability of dressings/bandages in the hospital’s stock, the medics had first sent a request to the hospital administration on Nov 3 and then on Dec 1 to provide bandages to the paediatric burn unit.
However, every time the hospital refused owing to the non-availability of funds and resources.
Consequently, attendants of under-privileged patients are being forced to purchase the bandages privately, the official said, each of which costs Rs1,400 to Rs1,500, while a patient required at least six to seven bandages over a couple of days.
Similarly, the burn unit was also facing a shortage of medicines as well as syringes.
When contacted, Mayo Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Munir Ahmad said he did not have the powers of a drawing and disbursing officer, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Prof Saqib Saeed was responsible for it.
The CEO, however, refused to comment despite being contacted repeatedly.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022