ON my way to buy a book recently, a stray dog bit me on the leg outside the National Institute of Psychology cafeteria inside the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad. I was lucky to be wearing a rather thick pair of trousers that day, or else the damage would have been a lot more serious. A kind-hearted couple who happened to be passing by at the time also helped me get out of a tight situation. That done, the next crucial thing to do was to visit some health facility for professional assessment of the wounds on my leg. I had heard someone once saying that a patient is nothing but a sick body for the doctors to treat. That day, I truly experienced it first-hand and also realised how it feels to be treated merely like ‘a body’.

Next, I went straight to the on-campus medical centre where my wounds were examined before being washed. I was given a tetanus shot, and told to get vaccinated as soon as possible. My wounds were, thankfully, not severe, but since a portion of my skin had been exposed to the canine tooth, vaccination, I was told by the examiner, was necessary. Later, I was hurriedly placed in an ambulance and taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) because the QAU medical centre did not have the rabies vaccine.

The visit to PIMS was a horror. It was a five-minute job that took nearly 150 minutes. I went to the emergency section, got my medical slip made out, and explained my case to the medical officer. She recommended that I must get VaxiRab N, and sent me to some ward along with a couple of nurses. Once there, I was asked to either arrange or purchase the vaccine on my own. The element of nonchalance in their attitude left me rather stunned.

I was first referred to the outpatient department (OPD) pharmacy, which did not have the vaccine. From there I went to another pharmacy, but the status remained unchanged. Finally, I found a pharmacy in G-8 Markaz which did have the vaccine, but it was priced at Rs2,126. Being a student, I was in no position to dish out such a huge amount. The pharmacist was surely not amused by my situation.

Now I returned to PIMS and updated the nurses. They referred me back to the medical officer who suggested that I should check some other pharmacy. I was tired and frustrated by that time. Thankfully, a security guard came to my rescue. He advised me to wait for the emergency ward pharmacy to open. I did, and got the vaccine shot nearly 150 minutes after I had arrived at PIMS.

As such, a patient requires five shots of the vaccine, which would incur a total cost of Rs10,630. In a country where a million dog-bite incidents are reported every year, how can one expect the patients to afford such an amount?

Other than pricing and availability, it was utterly disappointing to see healthcare providers leaving patients brought to the emergency section on their own, shrugging off any element of responsibility.

The relevant authorities must make the vaccine affordable by improving its availability at state-run health facilities. Also, there is a dire need to conduct refresher courses for doctors and nurses to remind them of their professional duty to behave responsibly and at least be attentive towards their patients.

Daniyal Khurshid
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...