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A nursery of chronic shortages

June 09, 2012


Hospital staff tend to infants following the fire that broke out in the Services Hospital in Lahore. – Photo by Online
Hospital staff tend to infants following the fire that broke out in the Services Hospital in Lahore. – Photo by Online

LAHORE, June 8: Of the five infants who had suffered burns in the fire at Services Hospital’s nursery on Thursday, the condition of three was stated to be improving on Friday.

A total of 18 children survived fire and are under treatment at Services Hospital’s Paediatric Medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

A source said the fire incident also exposed mismanagement at Services Hospital which had no equipment to meet any emergency. He said the hospital arranged the required equipment like incubators and ventilators and even baby cots from other state-run health facilities to provide care to the newborns.

The source said out of five incubators two were arranged by Mayo Hospital and one each by Mian Munshi Hospital, Kot Khwaja Saeed Hospital and Lady Aitchison Hospital. Besides, one ventilator was provided by Health Secretary Arif Nadeem.

Similarly, he said, five baby cots were brought from Jinnah Hospital and four from Children’s Hospital. Other equipment like blue light phototherapy also was arranged from Children’s Hospital.

“As many as 30 deliveries daily take place at the Labour Room of Services Hospital,” the source said, adding that at least 10 per cent of them required specialised treatment at the nursery section.

Dr Saleem Cheema, who was designated as focal person in the wake of the nursery unit fire incident, told Dawn on Friday that one baby was in critical condition while the health of others was improving. “Eighteen babies are under treatment,” he said.

Answering a question, he said a probe launched by the Chief Minister Inspection Team (CMIT) was under way. Headed by CMIT chairman Najam Saleem, the team also comprises two professors of University of Engineering & Technology, and Punjab Health Director-General Nisar Ahmed Cheema.

Quoting an official close to the inquiry team, the source said the investigators identified mismanagement at the hospital which led to the tragic incident. He said the sole nursery unit at the hospital had no sufficient facilities for the care of newborns.

The source said it had three feet wide corridor only and the rescuers found it too narrow to rush the children to other places during fire.

A senior doctor of the paediatric department had filed two complaints of short-circuit at the nursery section to the hospital administration but found no response.

The air-conditioner which was said to be the main cause of fire was operating ‘uncovered’ for the last two weeks or so. He further said that during initial probe it was noticed that there was not a single fire-extinguisher at the second floor of the administration block, where the fire incident took place.

The source said it would take another two days to complete the inquiry report.

An official told this reporter that of the seven deceased children, six were baby girls. He said the 15-day-old boy was son of a Sahiwal labourer, Muhammad Ramzan, who brought his wife Sajida to Services Hospital for delivery.

Quoting Ramzan, the official said Sajida had preferred Lahore’s teaching hospital to local health facilities of her hometown in the hope that Services Hospital would have better arrangements and qualified doctors.

He said the hospital record showed that a majority of six baby girls were between 1 and 3 days.

He said the baby of Sheela, a resident of Chamra Mandi, was one-day old, baby of Uzma of Daroghawala (three days old), baby of Shaheen of Harbanspura (two days old), baby of Asifa of Madina Colony (one-day old), baby of Ayesha of Baghbanpura (one-day old) and baby of Iram of Mozang (11 days old).

BURIAL: The seven newborns were laid to rest amid moving scenes at different places.

Six of the newborns were buried at Mozang, Chamra Mandi, Daroghawala, Harbanspura, Madina Colony and Baghbanpura. The body of another child was taken to Sahiwal.