MULTAN-The absence of kidney dialysis machines at Nishtar Hospital has further added to the miseries of poor patients as just six out of 56 machines are currently functional at the dialysis ward of the hospital.

The issue was brought to the light by MNA Shaheen Shafiq and chairman market committee Multan Imtiaz Gulzar Chatan during a surprise visit to the dialysis ward here on Tuesday. “The government had given 56 machines to the Nishtar Hospital but now 50 machines are missing and the hospital administration knows nothing about the missing machines,” said Shaheen Shafiq while talking to this scribe. She declared that she would submit a detailed report with the Chief Minister office on this issue.

Imtiaz Gulzar Chatan told the journalists that a machine used for the dialysis of AIDS patients is being utilised for the dialysis of patients not infected with AIDS. “They (hospital administration) have no answer for this crime. They simply say that they are faced with shortage of machines and therefore they have to utilize all machines,” he added.

The administration of the hospital claimed that a total of 13 machines were installed in the ward out of which seven went out of order and remaining six were functional. The Medical Superintendent of the hospital Dr Ashiq Malik insisted that the hospital possessed just 13 machines and not 56 out of which six were functional. He said that steps were being taken to repair the out of order machines.

The patients burst out against the apathy of the hospital and government. A patient namely Kahlid told this scribe that he came all the way from Khanewal to the hospital for dialysis daily since Thursday but he could not get a turn till date. “I daily come and wait for my turn. If the machine is available, the doctor is missing and if the doctor is available the machine is missing,” he lamented. He said that the poor patients were forced to undergo dialysis even on machine used for the treatment of AIDS patients as they had no other choice.

The absence of dialysis machines and apathy of Nishtar Hospital administration as well as government has sparked a serious outcry in the society as civil society demanded immediate supply of at least 50 new dialysis machines. A civil society activist Azeem Khan pointed out that over 40 million population of South Punjab as well as the residents of areas of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan bordering this region relied on Nishtar Hospital for medical aid. “The apathy of the government and its machinery (Nishtar administration) can by gauged from the fact that dozens of dialysis patients daily visit the hospital and return hopelessly. They see death creeping towards them as they are told that there is no machine available for their dialysis,” he maintained.  He demanded the government to take notice of plight of poor kidney patients of South Punjab and supply dialysis machines to the Nishtar Hospital. He also demanded Chief Minister Punjab to take notice of missing machines and issue order for inquiry against Nishtar Administration.