DERA GHAZI KHAN -  Dozens of infants are fighting for life in deplorable condition of the Children Ward of Teaching Hospital Dera Ghazi Khan that is particularly hit by doctors’ absenteeism, and shortage of drugs and other facilities.

Absence of basic facilities like incubator, ventilators, centralised oxygen system, staff, arrangements for preterm births, and absenteeism of head of department and other senior medical staff, overcrowding and inefficient administration could cause untoward incident.

Overcrowded neonatal intensive care unit of children ward seems like a railway platform due to mismanagement, undue presence of attendants and lack of hygiene and sterilisation. Even in nights, the attendants sleep on infants’ beds with muddy and dirty feet/ shoes in neonatal ward. Running cats and rats that can bite babies could be seen there.

Talking to The Nation, Zeeshan Majeed, father of a premature baby, said that he has shifted his son who needed special care in incubator, but no incubator was available in neonatal intensive care unit. Even his son has been stayed in unhygienic environment, he added.

An attendant namely Anfas Raza complained that despite provision of Rs350 million from Punjab government as medicine budget in the last two years, the patients have to purchas medicines from market. Even cotton roll, nasogastric (NG) tube and essential analgesic, antipyretic and antibiotic injections, syrups like Calpol, Brufen and Panadol are not available in the hospital. Only national company made injection Efarex 1g (ceftiaxone) is available but it could not be used for premature infants.

Female attendants said that broken cots, running cats among sick babies, scattered mess, mismanagement in handling of hospital waste, unhygienic and dirty beds sheets, dirty bathrooms and non-availability of sitting facility in the ward speak volumes.

When approached, Associated Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that oxygen supply system for babies in neonatal intensive care unit has been installed through denotation of citizens and some doctors.

To a question, he admitted that installed attendance biometric machine was not operational and concerned head of department, associate professor, assistant professor and other senior doctors never used it for their daily attendance, all these doctors marked their attendance on a register.

He said that two incubators gifted by USAID were present but not functioning due to lack of staff. He also admitted that bed sheets are not replaced on daily basis. Suction machine and some oxygen supplying points are out of order while oxygen supply system should be installed in children ward. Patients are suffering hardship due to lack of ventilator and shortage of medicines and the attendants are forced to purchase medicine on their own.

After seeing a snap of nursery ward in which female attendants were sleeping on patients beds in ICU, Dr Mukhtar admitted that it is failure of the management. The attendants were of the opinion that the poor health system at the government level exhibits a capitalist mindset where private practitioners and expensive hospitals are given the leeway to make hefty profits in absence of equivalent public sector hospitals.