Specialised Services Lacking at DHQs; Effective Oversight Required

ISLAMABAD: Specialised services were found lacking at the District Headquarter Hospitals (DHQs) monitored in February 2012. Of the 65 such facilities monitored, three-fourths did not offer psychiatry while 61% were without physiotherapy services. Similarly, about two-fifths of the hospitals had no services for cardiology (40%) and chest specialists (43%) while 44% were without orthopedics. Also, 24 DHQs did not have ENT specialists.

Since patients are referred to DHQs for specialised treatment, lack of these services mean they have to seek treatment privately. In January this year, 2,622 serious patients were referred to the monitored DHQs Through effective oversight, the government should ensure availability of the promised services at its health facilities. However, more than 80% of the observed DHQs had specialised dental, surgery, pediatric, pathology, ophthalmology, gynecology and obstetric services available. Eleven health facilities did not have blood banks; seven were without ophthalmology rooms and three lacked labour rooms.

There were no Sui gas connections available in 30 DHQs while eight did not have arrangements for clean drinking water, had no washrooms with running water and no proper waiting area for patients. All the monitored DHQs had wards for in-patients and laboratories for tests.

Similarly all but one DHQ in Balochistan had emergency wards for out-patients and dental rooms. There were operation rooms for carrying out major operations in 64 of the 65 health facilities monitored. All but two hospitals in Balochistan had generators for power backup. To gauge patients’ perception, 193 of them were interviewed with 45 saying they had to pay for prescribed medicines they got from the in-house pharmacy. This indicates corruption in those health facilities. On the other hand, 148 patients expressed satisfaction with the support and guidance they received from the paramedical staff. However, 22 complained about absence of doctors, 50 thought the time given by the doctors in attending to them was insufficient while 33 categorized doctors’ behaviour as rude.

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