LAHORE - Free dispensaries and basic health units of City District Government Lahore are having miserable conditions due to the apathy of Health authorities.

Most of the dispensaries and BHUs are functioning without basic facilities and medicines from years while officials of health section are not even making efforts for the improvement of these basic health units, sources told The Nation.

Insiders say the staff appointed in these free dispensaries including doctors, dispensers and foot staff often remain absent from their duties or disappear during duty timings which cause problems for the poor patients.

In over 150 free dispensaries and basic health units, more than 4,000 poor patients usually of seasonal diseases like flu, fever and minor wounds, pay visit daily for free medical check up and medicines. But unfortunately these facilities not being provided to them because of misappropriations in the supply of medicines, the sources added. These ‘free’ dispensaries are also becoming unaffordable for the poor patients because of the increasing rates of different clinical tests.

Muhammd Hanif, a dispenser at Kot Khawaja Saeed dispensary, told The Nation yesterday that he attended nine patients till noon. He said that average 25 to 30 patients of minor diseases daily visit the dispensary for medical check-up or treatment.

A patient of fever and flu, Najma Jamil said that she was getting treatment at the dispensary for last three days but due to shortage medicine, she had to buy the medicine from private medical store.

Najam, a visiting doctor at Shah Alam dispensary, said that main objective of these dispensaries is to provide first aid to the patients of minor injuries, and to give treatment of some seasonal diseases only. He added that in some cases he has to prescribe costly medicines which CDGL is not providing to these dispensaries.

Adding to the woes to patients, the health department has made it mandatory for the patients to register themselves at these dispensaries and BHUs through their national identity cards. Underage patients cannot avail the free medical facilities at these dispensaries and hospitals.

After the implementation of this decision, the number of patients has been significantly decreased, said an official of health department on condition of anonymity.

The health department last year also increased the fees package for all kind of clinical tests in CDG hospitals, BHUs and free dispensaries which was in violation of the Local Government Ordinance. The 50 to 100 percent levy/increase is applicable on both categories of patients - general and private.

As per annual revision, diagnostic investigations charges have also been increased up to 100 percent every year as well for all the free dispensaries of CDGL despite the fact these dispensaries had been established with the sole aim to provide the poor with free medical facilities, the sources further disclosed.

Those patients who often avail medical facility in these dispensaries already seemed reluctant to visit again due to high fees of tests despite free treatment and the condition of ID card. They also feared of having different dangerous diseases due to improper methods being used in these free dispensaries.