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In the open in summer

May 29, 2012

THIS is with reference to Sheikh Arz Mohammad’s letter (May 26) on the picture published in this paper (May 12) showing the relatives of the patients of SIUT who are forced to sleep on piles of iron rods in the open. I would like to extend my sympathies to the relatives who were roughing it out in the hot sunny weather in the hope that their near and dear ones would be able to go home restored to health.

However, the writer failed to read the caption of the photograph carefully. Those photographed were not patients, rather they were relatives of the patients. I agree with him though that they too deserve a shelter, but the question is who will make arrangements for that?

The writer suggests that SIUT should spend five per cent of the donations it raises on building shelters. SIUT is already spending massively on the excellent and state-of-the-art services it provides with a touch of compassion and humanism and absolutely free of charge.

No patient is required to wait for weeks in the sun for his turn. SIUT’s emergency runs round the clock and no patient is ever turned back however ill he may be and thus rob him of hope.

All services, including medicines, are provided free with dignity. SIUT’s philosophy is that healthcare is the fundamental right of a person. This also means it is the government’s duty to undertake this responsibility. Failure to do so has left the health sector in a mess.

If SIUT were to accept Mr Sheikh’s suggestion and spend on shelters for attendants of patients, services (transplants, dialysis, lithotripsy, etc) it provides absolutely free of charge will have to be curtailed. Who will decide which of these 700,000 patients is to be allowed to live and who is to be condemned to die. You have to see the look of despair and fear in the eyes of the mother with a seriously ill child to know what a cruel decision it would be.

If the government were to wake up to its responsibility, it can solve the problem. There are buildings belonging to the government in the vicinity of SIUT that have signboards with names of fancy-sounding institutions supposedly providing dubious education for fabulous fees.

Can’t these buildings be put to better use by converting them into rest houses for the poor who travel to Karachi from far and wide to have their relatives treated at SIUT?