SIALKOT - Over 500,000 or 12 percent of a total of 4 million people of Sialkot district are the victim of hepatitis, a health officer disclosed here on Tuesday.

Talking to the newsmen, Sialkot District Health Authority CEO Javaid Warraich said that there was no facility of hepatitis treatment at all the 88 basic health units (BHUs), seven rural health centers (RHCs) and even all the three THQ hospitals in Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur tehsils here.

He said that only anti hepatitis medical and preventive medical treatment, vaccination was available for limited patients at Govt. Allama Iqbal Memorial Teaching Hospital Sialkot, but it is not enough for the growing number of the hepatitis patients.

He added that the number of hepatitis victims is increasing in Sialkot district, saying that the main reason behind the epidemic was the role of quacks who are playing with the lives of the people.

Dr Javaid added that there were total 2,800 quacks were in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur tehsils. He said that the Sialkot Health Department had recently conducted a special survey at the union council level which revealed that there were total 2,800 quacks in Sialkot district.

He said that the Health Department was taking stern legal action against the quacks. He said that the Punjab government will hold a week-long free hepatitis medical treatment camp at Daska Civil Hospital, which will start from May 22, 2017. He said that screening of blood to detect hepatitis A, B, C, treatment and vaccine would be provided for the patients.

Likewise, the people living in the rural areas of Sialkot district have been facing great difficulties as the Basic Health Units (BHUs) in their rural areas are not equipped with providing health facilities even emergency treatment.

The minor budget of medicines for these BHUs adds to the woes of the rural patients. Most of the people belonging to the rural areas complained about the provision of the emergency medical services at the government health facilities especially at the BHUs.

Senior officials of Health Department said that there were some reasons behind the situation, including the very less budget for medicines, existence of the BHUs at long distance, non-availability of medicines, doctors, paramedics and ambulances and no easy access to reach the BHUs because of the dilapidated and shabby roads.

On Saturday, a kidney patient and his family suffered a great ordeal in Qila Kalarwala, Pasrur tehsil. Village Abbasiwala-Pasrur based kidney patient Bashir and his family could not be provided with emergency medical treatment at the government health facilities despite he made hectic efforts even to reach there.

No ambulance was available to take him to the BHU, thus, the family hired a three-wheeler auto rickshaw  put the patient on it and reached the BHU Qila Kalarwala after travelling the 15km shabby and dilapidated roads.

There was neither a doctor nor an ambulance was available at BHU Qila Kalarwala, said the grieved family of the kidney patient. The lower staff asked them to take the kidney patient to the Pasrur THQ Civil Hospital for his emergency treatment. Thus, they had to travel to another distance of 17km to reach the Pasrur THQ Civil Hospital.

When they reached the Pasrur THQ Civil Hospital, the medical staff deputed there at the emergency ward also advised them to take the patient to Govt Allama Iqbal Memorial Teaching Hospital Sialkot, the family added. After the hectic struggle and inhuman treatment, the family moved to a private hospital, having no more patience to suffer great ordeal, as no ambulance was also available even at the Pasrur THQ Civil Hospital.

When contacted, health officials said that all the ambulances of all the BHUs, RHCs and THQ hospitals have already been handed over to Rescue 1122 under the policy of the Punjab government for providing better emergency services for patients.

Deputy Commissioner Asif Tufail said that round-the-clock ambulance service was available by the Rescue 1122 covering all the areas.  He expressed dismay over the pathetic story of the sad kidney patient. He has also ordered a probe against all the responsible officials. He appointed the CEO of District Health Authority as the inquiry officer.

Meanwhile, Dr Javed said that there were total 88 Basic Health Units (BHUs) in Sialkot district and the annual budget of medicines for these BHUs was Rs14 million.

According to the senior officials, 50 to 100 patients visit these BHUs for medication. The budget of medicines is not sufficient for the growing number of patients. After the necessary calculation, it costs only R2 to every patient there per annum. In other words, the Health Department spends only Rs2 on medicines for every patient at these BHUs in a year.

The nasty situation should be a point of grave concern and an “eye opener” for the officials of the provincial health department. The officials added that they had repeatedly brought the nasty budget situation into the high ups of health authority during the last few years. They said they had made repeated appeals to double the Rs14 million budget for purchasing medicines for Sialkot district‘s BHUs, but no one had paid attention to the burning issue.