SIALKOT-The prolonged unavailability of burn unit facility at any of the government hospital in Sialkot district has resulted in the death of another two fire victims in a week.

On April 23, Hajipura-based maid Asima Maseeh (25), an acid throwing victim, died due to her serious wounds after fighting for life for a week at Mayo Hospital Lahore.

On April 27, 2018, Adalatgarha-based Shehbaz, allegedly set ablaze by his wife and sister-in-law, succumbed to his serious wounds after fighting for life for four days in Mayo Hospital Lahore last Saturday.

According to the doctors, the 90 percent bodies of both the victims had been completely burnt and they were shifted to Mayo Hospital Lahore in critical condition due to non-availability of burn unit in Sialkot district.

The local doctors added that it normally takes three to four hours to shift a patient to Mayo Hospital Lahore for the emergent medical treatment. The doctors added that the delay makes the condition of victims further critical. They said that the timely medical treatment could help save their lives with the availability of burn unit facility at local level.

Meanwhile, one more year of promises has passed, but the Sialkot still remains unable to get the direly needed burn unit despite having the two teaching hospitals. The dream of having an international standard burn unit at Sialkot still remains untrue.

Sialkot has two DHQ/Teaching hospitals namely Govt Allama Iqbal Memorial DHQ/Teaching Hospital and Govt Sardar Begum Memorial DHQ/Teaching Hospital which lack the facility.

Several decades have passed but no one including the local elected representatives had ever bothered to establish a burn unit in Sialkot. The situation is a very big question mark on the performance of the Punjab government.

The Punjab government is spending billions of rupees on the establishment of the grand building of Kh Muhammad Safdar Medical College but it remained unable to allocate even a single penny for establishing a bun unit in any of the DHQ hospitals of Sialkot, which had been working under the direct supervision of Kh Muhammad Safdar Medical College.

The burn patients out of over 4.4 million population of Sialkot district have to suffer great ordeal in getting medical treatment at Lahore, Islamabad and other main cities after travelling long. Thus, several burnt patients succumb to their severe burn wounds even before getting medical treatment or before reaching Lahore, Islamabad or other cities.

In 2002, then District Nazim of Sialkot Mian Naeem Javaid had approved a project to establish a well-equipped burn unit at Govt Allama Iqbal Memorial DHQ Hospital but it could not be established due to the non-availability of the funds. Since then, no one had ever felt the need of establishing burn unit at Sialkot despite knowing the fact that early establishment of a burn unit is the dire need of the people.

Local social, religious, health and political circles have expressed grave concern over the situation. They said that the Health Secretary and Director General Health had never visited these hospitals to know the problems of the local patients. They said that the situation is leaving big question marks on Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif's good governance claims.

Lawyers Aliya Hina, Ghazala Adnan Bhatti, Lala Mubashar Butt, Mian Ghulam Farooq, Saleem Ahmed, Mian Ghulam Farooq, Syed Habibul Hassan and Adnan Dar and local social, political, business, medical and religious circles expressed grave concern over the nasty situation.

They urged the Punjab chief minister to look into the matter and ensure early establishment of a burn unit at Sialkot in the larger interest of the local people.

When contacted, Kh Muhammad Safdar Medical College Principal Dr Zafar Ali said that the situation was in his notice and efforts were underway to establish a burn unit in Sialkot.