DERA GHAZI KHAN-Over 500,000 people of Taunsa Sharif are deprived of healthcare due to shortage of medicines, doctors, paramedical staff and non-functionality of Trauma Centre of the Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital.

The Building Department of Dera Ghazi Khan has failed to hand over the new building of Trauma Centre completed at a cost of Rs93.267 million to the health authorities. It lacks physician, ENT specialist, radiologist, ophthalmologist, blood transfusion officer, and homeopathic doctor since long. The poor are facing hardship in the evening and night shifts at the hospital due to lack of medical facilities like X-ray, ultrasounds, lab tests, absenteeism, worst condition of operation theater/ labor room and mismanagement.

Residents including Sharif Khan and Shabir Malik said that shortage of basic medical facilities had now become unbearable for the public. Low standard drugs and lack of medical and non-medical staff had affected the people of the tehsil Taunsa.

Lying vacant are the posts of 07 additional principal medical officers, 03 additional principal women medical officers, 08 senior medical officers, 05 senior women medical officers, 01 head nurse, 01 charge nurse, 01 computer operator, 01 ECG technician, 01 dispenser, 02 laboratory assistants, 04 sweepers, 01 mali and 01 chowkidar.

An official who is a resident of 35-year-old-Hospital Residential Colony, on the condition of anonymity, said that despite the monthly deduction of house rent allowance, conveyance allowance and 5 percent house repairing allowance from salary, the staff residences had not been repaired for many years.

Even the district administration has not constructed new residences for increasing staff in the last 27 years, he said. Only one new residence for Medical Superintendent was constructed in 2009, he added. Hospital and residential buildings were dilapidated and the staff was involved in theft of medicines, funds, diesel of generator and ambulance and looting poor patients in the name of treatment, he alleged.

A patient namely Haq Nawaz along with wife said that the authorities had turned a deaf ear to the entreaty of patients because of the pathetic condition of the hospital and indifference of the staff and doctors.

Staff especially medical officers including WMOs often remain absent or reach the hospital around 11:00pm instead of 8:00am when their official duty starts, he said. Mrs Nawaz said that female patients were forced for treatment in private hospitals of lady doctors situated near the government hospital. The pregnant women are forced for delivery in private clinics, she added. “There is a need to provide gynaecological facility at labour room round the clock but after evening, female patients are behaved in bad ways here,” she added.

When approached, Medical Superintendent Sher Muhammad Khosa denied the allegations of the absenteeism and lack of medicines. However, he confirmed that Trauma Centre has not been made functional yet.

Answering about delay, he though infrastructure of Trauma Centre has been completed but its building has not been taken over from the Building Department. Moreover, it is still without elevator, water supply in operation theater, supply of electricity, transformer connection and gas connection. “Even Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited is not issuing demand notice for gas connection, although MNA Sardar Amjad Farooq Khosa has tried for it,” he said.

To a question, Dr Khosa admitted that hospital services were suffering due to acute shortage of staff. 44 sanctioned posts out of a total 148 posts of staff are still lying vacant.

He maintained that if district government or Health Department filled up these vacant posts, automatically the hospital services would be improved.