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Pindi health services in a shambles

September 13, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Sept 13: The CAT (also known as CT) Scan (Computed Axial Tomography) machine installed at District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) was inoperative yesterday, forcing patients to go to private laboratories instead.

There are two CT machines installed in Benazir Bhutto (BBH) and DHQ hospitals. The CT machine at BBH has also been out of order since developing faults in November 2010, and the Holy Family Hospital (HFH) – with more than 700 beds – holds the distinction of not providing a CT scan machine.

Health delivery services in Rawalpindi have been in a shambles due to the provincial government’s indifference. The only Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Angiogram machines in Rawalpindis government hospitals were installed at HFH, and have been unusable for the last four years.

Sources told Dawn that despite fixing the machine, the administration has asked doctors to refer patients to private laboratories for CT scans.

They said that the provincial health department is not taking the matter seriously and that the provincial government has not allocated funds for the repair and maintenance of machinery for the 2012/13 fiscal year.

The DHQ hospital also deals in medico-legal cases – this makes it difficult for the patients and police to go to private laboratories as the court does not accept reports from private clinics and hospitals in legal proceedings.

More than 50 patients are recommended daily to get CT scans from private pathology laboratories all over the city. BBH and DHQ hospitals were charging Rs1,600 for a simple CT scan and Rs2,800 for a contrast CT while private laboratories charge Rs8,000 to Rs10,000 per scan, respectively.

The Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab Chairman Dr Mohammad Haroon lashed out at the Punjab government, saying that it had failed to install necessary machines for pathological tests and medicines at government hospitals.

“Being a health minister, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has failed to deliver and he should resign for not improving the condition of the government hospitals. Doctors are forced to refer patients to private laboratories for medical tests as the machinery and equipment are not available at government hospitals,” he said.

He said that the CT scan machine at the DHQ Hospital has been installed in the wrong place and the hospital administration does not conduct scans for patients with tumors. “Only head injury patients are able to use the facility,” he said.

When contacted, DHQ Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Sher Ali Khan said the CT scan machine developed faults due to the fluctuation of electricity and would be repaired this Friday.

He said that the repair process took two days due to the company engineer’s absence and on Thursday, the engineer visited the site and identified the main problem. He said that the administration also contacted the Islamabad Electricity Supply Company (Iesco) and informed them that the fluctuating electricity resulted in a fault in the machinery.

He said the hospital would repair the machine with emergency funds in order to improve the facility for patients who cannot afford private laboratories.