Surgeons in Dera Ismail Khan amazed the country when reports surfaced that they carried out a record-breaking series of 16 operations, saving lives under illumination from their cellphone torchlights. The operations were carried out in District Headquarters Hospital in D.I Khan City of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, owing to the hospital generator breaking down and the absence of a back up supply.

While the tenacity of the doctors and their grit to perform their duties in situations well below par can be appreciated, this incident is an example of utter failure of the health system in not just KPK but the governance of the country as a whole. In this instance the doctors were able to save lives, but what of all the lives that are being lost because hospitals do not have adequate electricity and sanitation facilities.

An incidence of cutting patients open in near darkness is reminiscent of a scene from perhaps World War II, after which the world not only discovered electricity but novel ways of ensuring that the provision of healthcare is drastically improved from that dreadful time. It seems that large parts of Pakistan are still stuck in that century and our government is failing to pull the country out of it. It is highly unfortunate that even government owned hospitals are not spared from power outages for extended periods of time. Two months ago prolonged power suspensions and low voltage in parts of Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera led to blocked roads and burning tires in protest, causing serious problems for commuters in the areas. Since then flooding in the area has not improved situation for the better.

Having said that, some reports suggest that the two junior doctors, acted out of their own accord and the need to perform those surgeries was not pressing enough to be done under torchlight. If this is indeed the case, then it is the failure of the hospital management that 16 operations were conducted by junior doctors, and they found out only after their photos had gone viral on social media. This is the highest form of negligence, one that points out to the crippling need for healthcare reform in the country and the lack of qualified professionals in the country to do that job.