The federal budget is almost a month away & I would like to bring a very important point to the notice of all the concerned. In the last around 15-20 years, refurbished/reconditioned/second-hand medical equipment is easily making its way into Pakistan without any check.  

A small item like a second-hand ECG machine can be understandably brought into Pakistan apparently without anyone’s notice. But it boggles my mind that how the huge second-hand items like MRI (which weigh around 20 tons), CT Scanners (which weigh around five to seven tons), big x-ray units etc also sneak into our country? It appears that such items cannot enter our country without the help of those who are supposed to check their entry into Pakistan. The second-hand items are old & generally those which are dumped in the west/far-east by different hospitals & are sold at cheap prices.  

Their diagnosis is not so accurate which can be at times dangerous for the patient. For example, the magnet of an old PM (Permanent Magnet) MRI deteriorates with time & loses its homogeneity as the years pass away. Therefore, its resolution is not as good as of a new one & thus the patient may not get a very correct diagnosis. But interestingly, many leading hospitals of Pakistan are using the old MRI’s, CT Scanners, Colour Dopplers & other diagnostic imaging systems used in radiology.  

But on the other hand these hospitals charge a hefty amount from the patients. I know that the new equipment is nearly four to five times expensive. But since the ratio of import of medical equipment is extremely small, rather negligible as compared to other commodities/items, so I suggest that the Government should withdraw Sales Tax, Income Tax, Duty etc on their imports so that the menace of second-hand medical equipment is curbed & the ordinary citizens of Pakistan get accurate diagnostic reports. With such withdraw of duties/taxes/sales-tax, the Government would also not lose much of revenue & would rather indirectly provide better medical facilities to the common man. Similarly, the Government should totally ban second-hand medical equipment & check its entry into the country effectively. 

M. ASIF,  

Karachi, April 30.