Pakistan’s health sector – Keeping a Wary Eye Open

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I have just finished reading the account of Imanae Malik’s death and I was finding it hard to hold back my tears. It is not at all surprising to see her family taking up this issue on a national level. They have every right to do and it’s high time somebody did. We come across such cases on almost a daily basis but no measures are taken to avoid these horrible tragedies in the future. What Imanae’s family is doing is certainly an eye-opener and makes everyone come to the terms with the gravity of the situation. The questions remains, who is to blame? The answers are both bitter and difficult to comprehend.

Pakistan’s health sector has come a long way ever since the inception of Pakistan. It is clearly evident from the proliferation of small and medium sized hospitals sprouting in every town and city. But the paramount factor being, do they provide all the necessary facilities which are extremely essential for a hospital to function? Do they have ample staff on duty in case of emergency? The current times call for grave measures where hospitals need to be fully equipped in order to function properly and cater to the needs of various patients.

We are living in such times where the news of a suicide blast does not astonish us anymore. I have learned through various sources that there are many people who do not die of the blast itself but due to the lack of first aid facilities in the hospitals they are taken to. The staff is either not on duty or not ready to serve the patients in case of emergency. Many hospitals, except a few, do not even have sufficient number of ambulances. This is a really sad picture. This clearly shows where the health sector currently stands. The tragic death of Imanae Malik is not a unique case. We have witnessed numerous such cases in which the hospital staff on duty is not skilled enough to administer a patient. This entirely is the responsibility of the hospital. Imanae, however, became a victim to the sheer negligence of the staff on duty. The paramount concern would be how to minimize such cases where innocent patients become victim to the incompetence of the unskilled staff. Government should take measures against such hospitals which hire staff which is unskilled and does not hold a proper degree. Following Imanae’s death, government should strictly scrutinize other hospitals to find out whether the deployed staff is skilled and has the prerequisite degrees to be able to serve the patients. This, however, is a difficult task. Government has minimum intervention when it comes to the private sector thus it becomes difficult to make proper checks and balances. These cases, however, can be minimized by undertaking certain measures. Such tragic incidents serve the purpose of interjecting an element of fear amongst the masses. They will essentially start distrusting the hospitals and be extra cautious when it comes to any kind of treatment or merely going for a routine check-up.

As they say, medicine is a very respectable profession and doctors save lives. Well, this is true but Imanae’s family has no choice but to hate them for they lost their 3 years old kid due to sheer negligence. Nobody ever took such heavy measures to confront the media and be so vocal about it and this is perhaps the reason why they have gained tremendous support from the masses at large. They are helping the society spread awareness against this menace. Their campaign, however, is geared towards a particular hospital which is utterly justified and they have every right to do so. They demand an action on the national level which is to close down this hospital.

While I grieve over the little kid’s tragic demise, I think that there are thousand others who have lost their loved ones in a similar manner but did not have the proper resources to raise their voice on the national level. They were either scared to do anything about it or were forced to suppress their voice. Government should undertake stringent measures to ensure that the hospitals nationwide are equipped with all necessary resources required to administer patients and provide them with all the essential facilities.

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