Karachi - Private hospitals have become a profit-hungry cartel and the government instead of giving aid and grants to this healthcare mafia from the taxpayers’ money should improve the capacity and condition of the neglected government hospitals in the larger interest of public, said Pasban Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Altaf Shakoor. In a statement here Sunday, he said the coronavirus had fully unveiled the poor and shabby healthcare system of Pakistan. He said in this country only a rich person could afford an illness while the poor masses did not have resources for treatment of their ailment. He regretted that some private hospitals that got registration as public welfare institutions were charging heavy commercial fees from patients. He said some hospitals set up on amenity plots or in buildings of already constructed government hospitals were looting people with both hands. Altaf Shakoor regretted that the government instead of stopping malpractices in these private hospitals was giving them aid, funds, grants and facilities, while ignoring the government sector hospitals who give free of charges facilities to the poor patients. He said the government hospitals if provided proper facilities, funds and better management could greatly serve the people in this time of coronavirus pandemic. He said the Infectious Diseases Hospital NIPA Karachi is still in limbo and it seemed that the Sindh government was not in the mood to open and run this hospital, because it would affect the roaring business of some private hospital mafia in this vicinity.

He said the rich people would go to any private hospital of their choice, but “We should think about the poor families that find it hard to feed their children.” He said, “We have been demanding for long to establish at least one teaching hospital in every district of Pakistan to ensure treatment of people near their doorsteps.

Altaf Shakoor expressed serious concern on shortage of beds in hospitals, overcrowded laboratories and acute shortage of medicines and oxygen cylinders in open market. He appealed to government to check hoarding and black-marketing of medicines and ensure their easy and affordable supply to the masses. He called for increasing the bed capacity at all government hospitals on war-footing. He said government hospitals in Orangi, Landhi, Saudabad, Korangi and Gadap should be upgraded immediately. He said PMDC should be made fully functional so that doctors could get their licenses renewed without hassle.

He asked to get repaired faulty medical equipment at government hospitals and fill their all vacant posts on urgent basis. He said there should be a fee structure and SOPs for treatment of patients in private hospitals. Shakoor said registration status of all private hospitals should be made public and strict action be taken against those welfare-registered hospitals that were charging commercial fees. He demanded that all private hospitals set up over amenity plots or in the government buildings should be asked to vacate these amenity lands and buildings immediately.

Altaf Shakoor demanded of the government to improve medical facilities at government hospitals in rural Sindh, so that the poor patients may not have to travel to Karachi and Hyderabad for medical treatment. He urged authorities to upgrade Qatar Hospital Orangi Town Karachi as a tertiary-care hospital immediately. He asked to establish free-standing emergency rooms in every part of the megacity Karachi.