Mega projects in Punjab take toll on health sector

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: Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Matiullah Achakzai
: Photo By News Lens Pakistan /

Lahore: Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) led Punjab government is focusing on mega development projects in the province and consuming its resources on new projects due to which health sector is seriously suffering.

The victims are the common people with nowhere to go but to complain and regret over the situation. One such example is a hospital at a 20-km drive from Lahore at Aiwan Dailwala area.  Lahore is one of the big metropolitan cities of Pakistan and the stronghold of the PML-N.

The hospital, already lacking essential facilities like CT scans, ventilators, ICU wards and adequate strength of doctors and paramedic staff, does not bear any resemblance to a hospital.  There are only two doctors for 100,000 people of this rural area.

Adnan Hanif, a local farmer, told News Lens Pakistan that the hospital had not only reduced to a dungeon, it is also spreading diseases like hepatitis C and dengue because of the stagnant pools of water surrounding the building. He disclosed that one or two doctors attending the patients leave the hospital 2.00 pm as they had to run their own private clinics where they attend patients and earn extra money.

“There is no system in place to check the duty hours and performance of doctor who provide no relief to the local,” Hanif lamented.

The doctors and paramedical staff are also reported to have been absent for months. “Set aside the medical equipment and other facilities, the doctors are also ghost workers who claim the salaries but remain invisible,” said Ahsan Ali, a local schoolteacher whose only son fell victim to this negligence, as he (son) was succumbed to injuries due to absence of doctors and emergency medicines in the hospital.

On the accountability and transparency of the governing system, Mudassar Rizvi, Chief Executive Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), holds the dysfunctional check and balance system in the health sector responsible for the situation..

While talking to News Lens Pakistan, he said, “Vertical accountability is there, as we are pointing out at the lacuna in the system, but horizontal accountability which originates from the internal check and balance system is dysfunctional.” Lack of accountability has a profound effect on the lives of common people, he added.

FAFEN also collects the data on hospitals and basic health centers across the country and its last report on this was released in 2013.

When contacted DG Health Punjab Dr Zahid Pervaiz, he refused to comment on the situation, saying that he needed time to come up with his version on the condition of rural health centers in the province.

Advisor to Punjab Chief Minister for Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said the government was trying to regulate all basic health units. “Any new system takes times to prevail and we have started collecting data on all such complains if there are any about the lack of medical facilities,” he added.

However, he admitted that the check and balance system was not worthy enough to end the crisis in the near future.

Young Doctors Association (YDA) belives that PML-N Government is not interested in health sector. Most of the doctors either prefer private jobs or leave the country for better opportunities as they are not paid enough for their long duties at public hospitals. said Dr Hussain, an office bearer of YDA.

There has been a growing dissatisfaction with the existing health services and a clear demand for better health care. Pakistan is one of those countries where the high proportion of the population is without an access to health services, especially in rural areas.

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