In its health profile, the Attock district administration envisages providing high standard health services to all without discrimination in an efficient way for the maximum benefit of the community, shortage of doctors, funds and equipment at Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital Pindi Gheb belie the claim.
Positions for a gynaecologist, a radiologist, ENT and child specialists, a surgeon and a female medical officer in the hospital have been lying vacant for years. Only six doctors, against 12 sanctioned posts, are currently available at the hospital, Daily Express has learnt.
According to a source in the hospital, though a medical specialist turns up almost regularly, he hardly deals with the patients, as, according to the source, the doctor was under ‘mental strain due to unknown reasons’.
According to the source, no female staffer was available in the emergency ward to deal with female patients.
The 100-bed hospital, built in 1980, has a meagre annual budget of Rs3.8 million, which is not enough to meet expenditure and cater to a growing patient load.
Around 2,000 patients from 12 union councils in the tehsil visit the hospital OPD every day.
Due to the absence of a gynaecologist, thousands of women, most of whom come from faraway places, are referred to other hospitals for pregnancy-related complications, the source said.
The source said though ultrasound, ECG, X-ray and other testing machines were installed, they were not in working condition.
Abid Hussain, a local resident, said that provincial and district administrations have failed to provide health facilities to area people despite tall claims of providing health facilities in the city peripheries. It also lacks equipment to conduct post-mortems.
A trauma centre and a blood centre also could not be established in the hospital despite repeated demands from the locals and empty assurances from the high-ups. The hospital has also been facing hygiene and sanitation issues.
A machine for blood tests is available at the hospital, but is unusable due to the lack of chemicals agents required for some tests, said a staffer requesting not to be named.
The hospital’s security was also at risk as the only security guard often remains absent from duty, he said.
When contacted, Medical Superintendent Dr Zaheerul Haq agreed that the hospital has been facing staff and funding shortages. He, however, said that the hospital has enough staff to deal with most situations.
Dr Haq said that the hospital’s annual budget was too meagre to meet expenditures. He said that in the past the district administration published several ads seeking applications from doctors to fill vacant positions but no one applied for. He said that doctors avoid working in remote areas due to lack of facilities and incentives.
In 2007, the Punjab government released a Rs12.6 million grant for the upgradation of the hospital, which was only enough to pay for the addition of the second floor.
Provincial Minister for Mines and Minerals Chaudhry Sher Ali Khan, who represents the district in the provincial assembly, said doctors do not like to be posted in far-flung areas such as Pindi Gheb. He said that whenever they were transferred there, either they got the orders cancelled, or simply quit.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2015.