Visiting a public sector hospital has always been a nightmare for me because of the pathetic conditions and indifferent attitude of the doctors and paramedical staff.
In contrast, a few medical institutions in the private sector provide better health facilities, but that too, on a very high cost.
For the poor population, getting basic health facilities in Pakistan is becoming unimaginable and that is why a large number of people lost their lives without getting proper medical attention, simply because they could not afford private hospitals, and government hospitals depicted precarious conditions with lack of basic infrastructure, while unhygienic atmosphere around these facilities adds to the horrendous situation.
Recently, a close relative of mine was admitted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the doctors advised her immediate surgery due to the severity of the disease.
But on the operation day, she was informed that doctors associated with the Sindh Health Department are observing strike, demanding raise in salaries and allowances at par with their counterparts in other parts of the country, and she will not be operated upon. She was not the only person who was shocked over this sudden information. Hundreds of other patients and their attendants were also facing the same haplessness.
The doctors advised her to go home and wait for the outcome of the expected negotiations between the doctors and government, after which a new date will be assigned to her. She was fortunate enough to have a residence in the city, but what about those patients who travelled from far-flung areas of interior Sindh or other parts of the country and have no place to go?
The saddest part is that each and every cancer patient at the general ward of the hospital was asked to arrange on their own, the surgical tools and medicines, one day before surgery, otherwise no operation will be conducted. These things are supposed to be provided by the hospital, but the administration seems reluctant to keep a check and balance, or maybe they are ignoring it on purpose.
Provision of health facilities is considered to be the most pious profession of all and doctors being the messiah, but in this case, the doctors depict the role of villains rather than heroes.
It has become a common feature in public sector hospitals across the country that after every few months’ doctors go on strike for one reason, or the other, without taking into consideration, the plight of the poor patients.
In Pakistan, medical facilities are also being provided according to wealth and status; and failure to afford expensive private hospitals is considered a sin. For our rulers, it seems, poor people do not matter and they cannot complain about such problems because being poor is their own fault.
In fact, to some extent, this is correct because we (the nation), despite bad experiences, vote for such people again and again in the hope that maybe, this time, they will learn from their past mistakes and deliver.
Whoever comes to power blame opponents for such conditions, but never make policies for improvement. This is sheer inhumane attitude on the part of our leaders, who in their election campaigns seek support of these underprivileged by fleecing them.
Globally, things are very much different, as governments put provision of health facilities on top priority, and doctors treat patients without any prejudice, but unfortunately, in Pakistan, health is the most vulnerable sector.
The overall situation at the government-run hospitals has exposed the current state of healthcare in Pakistan, and it would not be unfair to say, if these conditions persist, public hospitals will become a death trap for the poor.