Islamabad-Non-functioning of Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Unit of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has increased miseries for people seeking thalassaemia treatment for their children.

Only two doctors and eleven paramedics are working in the unit and patients are not being admitted due to shortage of staff.

Talking to The Nation, an official said that non-payment of salaries to the staff for last four month has worsened the situation as around 500 patients have been put on waiting list.

The number of trained staff till the beginning of this month was 19, which gradually started decreasing due to non-payment of salaries and ambiguities in the service structure.

The project of BMT unit was being funded by an Italian non-governmental organisation (NGO) till 2015, which had helped establish the unit in PIMS for the eradication of thalassaemia.

However, in 2015 the NGO handed over this unit to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences administration which in the first phase failed to provide uninterrupted salaries to the staff.

And in one year out of 28 staff members, only 13 are left.

Faisal Rafeeq, a father of a patient child, while talking to The Nation said, “I was turned back with my ailing child from BMT unit because the unit was is operational anymore.” He said his child’s full treatment will take around two years and so far he has gone through two months medical treatment only.

The BMT unit of PIMS is the only such facility running in the region with 06 beds and 03 transplant facilities. Moreover, with the support of Bait-ul-Maal and NGOs, the treatment cost has been declined to around Rs 800,000, which is considered nominal when compared with treatment expenditures at any private hospital.

The ministry of planning, development and reform in an office memorandum issued on October 13 had also directed the PIMS administration and ministry of CADD to take immediate steps for future retention of the trained staff and payment of salaries before formal closure of the project.

Talking to The Nation, Vice-Chancellor Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) Dr Javed Akram said that the BMT centre has not been closed; rather, it is not working because of problems in extension of the project.

“The administration had held a meeting in this regard and soon salary issue will be resolved,” said the VC.

He said that PC-IV of the projected has already been submitted; however the gap between closure of the project and its extension has led to this inconvenience.

According to an official, the BMT centre is fully equipped with international standard medical facilities but it lacks staff, which is not ready to work without salaries.

“It is up to doctor’s will to treat a patient now; otherwise there is no support from the hospital,” said the official. 

The doctors and other staff while talking to The Nation demanded immediate release of the salaries and provision of permanent service structure from the competent authorities.