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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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EditorialThings at Islamabad’s main hospital

Things at Islamabad’s main hospital

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) is one of the biggest hospitals of Islamabad, catering to patients from as far as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. This major hospital has been in the spotlight for quite some time, but for all the wrong reasons.

The latest scandal to hit Pims was the death of four patients due to non-functioning of the air conditioning system in its emergency ward.

Imagine a hospital in the heart of the seat of government without a functioning air conditioning system. And then imagine the state of affairs in hospitals located in Sindh’s remote areas or the farthest districts of Balochistan.

Four people who had been brought to the emergency ward of Pims in a span of two days died after their conditions deteriorated due to the suffocating heat in the absence of operational air conditioning system. There had also been cases of attendants fainting. Even the hospital doctors staged protests against this missing facility, saying that the heat was killing the patients and making it impossible for them to work at the emergency ward.

They met the hospital’s executive director, Dr Rana Imran Sikander, and apprised him of the situation at the emergency department, but he did not give them an encouraging reply.

The doctors’ protest was finally noticed by Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel who reached the hospital and directed the management to install air conditioners in the emergency ward within 24 hours.

Another issue being faced by patients and attendants at Pims is the non-availability of X-ray films. Instead, the patients are asked to take snapshots to show to doctors.

When the matter is raised before the relevant authorities of the hospital, the only reply they have is that the issues would be addressed soon.

Early this year, Pims was in the news after a vendor it had hired to incinerate medical waste was found involved in the sale of hazardous material – including discarded syringes and blood bags – in connivance with the hospital’s employees. After the scam was reported in media, a committee was formed to initiate an inquiry. As per the findings, a number of Pims employees were found involved.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also took notice of the issue and sought a report. So did the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Health Services as well as National Commission for Human Rights.

After a few months, in early June, the hospital was hit by another scandal. This time, Pims ambulances were found involved in smuggling flour from Azad Kashmir to Rawalpindi.

According to an official of the hospital, the ambulances took patients to Azad Kashmir and would bring subsidised flour on their return. The flour bags were then sold in Rawalpindi.

In another case, a computer which had data of health cards was stolen from the hospital.

These scams surfaced this year alone; there might be many incidents that go unreported and undetected. These misdoings point to one thing – rampant corruption in the hospital.

The health ministry, under whose jurisdiction the hospital falls, needs to come up with ways to stem this corruption that is seeping into an institution which has one of the largest influxes of patients coming less from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and more from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and other parts of Punjab.

There can be no compromise on the health of the citizens, but what is most unfortunate is to see patients die due to absence of facilities in hospitals.

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