Islamabad - Overcrowding of patients, rude behaviour of staff and unhygienic conditions are still the norms in government-run hospitals as hundreds of mostly impoverished patients and their attendants step into these premises.

A cursory visit to these hospitals would reveal weary looks in patient’s eyes and visible agony on their attendants’ faces as if they are forlorn and helpless in the whole world. Some of these emotions may arise due to the severity of the afflictions but a lot may be because of the pathetic conditions at the hospitals and behaviour of the doctors and paramedical staff, that add up to the patients’ woes.

“The arrangements for patients here are pathetic as there is no one to look after them,” said Maryum, an attendant of a patient admitted in gynaecological ward of Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi. She said about 10 hours had passed since her sister had given birth to a baby boy, but no doctor had visited to inquire the health of both mother and the newly-born.

“When I went to the medical officer’s room and asked her why the doctor was not coming on round in the ward, she said in a curt way that all the doctors are busy right now,” Maryum added. She said two patients were forced to share a single bed in the ward while the washrooms there were full of filth.

This is not the only story; rather there are hundreds of others who experience similar circumstances each day in government hospitals.

Medical Superintendent Holy Family Hospital Dr Arshad Ali Sabir admitted the fact that the hospital was dealing more patients than its capacity.

“We cannot deny (admission) to any patient, but it is also a fact that we do not have enough beds to accommodate such a large number of patients.”

“Sometime we have to adjust even two patients on a single bed especially in paediatric and gynaecological departments,” he mentioned while talking to APP.

In Pakistan, health sector has been neglected as according to Pakistan Economic Survey 2014-15 report, currently there are only 1,142 hospitals, 5,499 dispensaries, 5,438 basic health units, 671 maternity and child health centres with only 175,223 doctors, 90,276 nurses and 118,041 hospital beds for a population of around 190 million.

Dr Arshad said the provincial government had announced to establish a child healthcare hospital in Rawalpindi which would hopefully reduce load over paediatric departments of government hospitals.

The MS said the hospital had asked the provincial government to allow it to fill vacant seats of doctors and other staff, and hopefully new recruitments would be made soon.

He informed that an MRI centre was being established at radiology department of the hospital and in this regard a grant of Rs 190 million had also been allocated by the government.

According to reports, the government of Punjab has devised a comprehensive programme to make rural and basic health centres active, besides improving health facilities in ten districts of the province.

Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said nine centres of excellence will be set up in various cities during the year to improve healthcare. “The government has enhanced health budget from Rs 121 billion to Rs 166 billion which is a historic step,” he said during a press conference.

The condition of two major government hospitals of the federal capital is not that much different and patients here also suffer the same plight.

“It is really a harsh experience to stay in a government hospital due to inadequate facilities and behaviour of staff,” said Amjad Hussain who was recently discharged from the medical ward of Polyclinic Hospital.

A doctor on the condition of anonymity told APP that the hospital was a hub of problems including inadequate health facilities and medical staff, worthless emergency service, poor security and substandard paediatric and gynaecological wards.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division Usman Ibrahim had informed the upper house of the parliament during a question hour that the government was taking various steps to provide better health facilities to the patients in PIMS and FGPC Hospital.

Extension and reconstruction of Federal Government Polyclinic Hospital has also been planned and additional 2.54 acres of land has been allocated in the adjacent Argentine Park for this purpose, he said.

The minister said the government had lifted ban over the purchase of physical assets including machinery, equipment and allocated Rs 32 million for this purpose, adding, ban on fresh recruitment of medical staff had also been lifted.

Though the government is trying to improve the health and nutrition status of the country through promotional, preventive and rural services, but a lot more is needed to provide quality health services to masses which perhaps needs some revolutionary steps.