ISLAMABAD – If you are not influential and wealthy, please don’t expect a better treatment at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital. Cheap and substandard medicines, injections are, however, in abundance for any one’s treat.  

It is almost impossible for a patient visiting the PIMS to get all the prescribed medicines these days. The patients at the hospital that provide tertiary level care and serve as a referral hospital for the twin cities and adjacent areas are asked to purchase most of the medicines from the market and arrange blood for patients on their own.

Most of the patients are, however, seen complaining that the hospital pharmacy provides only basic and cheap medicines that are also substandard, and expensive drugs are always prescribed to be purchased from the market. Only few injections, tests and drips are available for the patients whether it concerns emergency or outpatient department (OPD). ‘I have been given only Panadol by the hospital. I will have to purchase from the market Anti allergic and antibiotics’, one of the patients suffering from fever at the emergency complained.

She was not the only patient complaining for not getting medicines and other facilities at the hospital everyone has the same story.  Sughran, who had come to the Maternal & Child Health Care Centre with her sister, regretted that she came to this hospital from Rawalpindi on Sunday as other hospitals were closed due to Ashura holidays, but now they have been thinking to shift her to a private hospital.

“The doctors informed us last night at 8 o’clock that in the morning they will operate my sister as she is expecting to deliver a baby so we arranged blood and medicines on our own but it is 2 o’ clock now in the afternoon and we still don’t know the condition of the patient and what they are going to do with her,” he said. There is so much carelessness and mismanagement on the part of the doctors that create difficulties for the already troubled patients.  It is also a general complaint that the medicines are given to patients for three to five days, but the patients have to take the pain of visiting the hospital again and again just to get the same medicines.

Some also complain that doctors deliberately do not prescribe the medicines that are available at the hospital and recommend the medicines of private companies as they get commission for prescribing them.  Ironically, the drugs that are available at the hospital expire in stores allegedly due to lack of required cooling system.

One of the officials requesting not to be named informed that a few days ago officials had found a substandard injection, and the whole lot was sent back to the company by the hospital. The officials said as the hospital selects lowest bidder for the purchase so there are issues of spurious and substandard drugs.

At the hospital premises a huge rush of patients is, however, visible at different corners, and some of them are even seen lying on the statures in the corridors.

 “Even in the critical care unit patients don’t get proper medical care and most of the machines remain out of order. Doctors mostly refer the patients who are in critical condition to a private hospital citing lack of facilities and crumbling healthcare structure of the hospital,” the to officials said.

The situation gets worse when the OPDs are closed at 1 o’ clock in the afternoon, and the patients visit emergency department where even the basic proper toilet facility and clean drinking water are missing.

However, PIMS Executive Director Dr. Riaz Warraich is of the opinion that no government can provide free medicines to its citizens. Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal has spent Rs 800 million on the medicines in the last four years, still the patients have been complaining.

“The government should ensure that each citizen has health insurance. The hospitals should only provide healthcare facilities to the patients and the medicines should be available only in medical stores. 

The government should collect taxes from every citizen and that money should be spent to make healthcare facilities available to every citizen,” Riaz emphasized. 

Regarding the overcrowded wards and the emergency area, he says the hospital was established for the 2 million population but now the population of catchment area has increased to 20 million and patient’s load has increased 1000 times.  The hospital management is considering to expand the facilities and currently has been expanding emergency area and along with the addition of 60 beds into the department. 

He maintained that there is no culture of voluntary blood donations still the hospital today keeps the 96 blood bottles for emergency situation that cannot meet the requirement of all in need.