Health Care goes Casual

Garm Chashma Diary
 .. by Islamuddin

A piece published in this online newspaper a few months ago did prompt some action on part of AKHSP by way of appointing a gynecologist and LMO but the promised range of services in THQ Hospital Garam Chashma still remain unfulfilled. There appears to be no imagination at work to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Instead of appointing four medical officers, one or two MOs and a medical specialist should have been preferred. Because of the non-availability of medical specialist most of the cases are referred to DHQ where these turn out to be simple ones with no complications. If the hospital was to play so safe and liberal in referrals then why should hefty entry fee is received and tests are carried out at some cost to the patients, the reports of which are retained in the hospital and the same are redone in DHQ, making health care prohibitively expensive for poor patients? This practice is the recipe to fail the partnership experiment. Moreover DHQ is over-burdened and specialists cannot see all the patients in the hospital and they are forced to visit their private clinics. This trend besides commercializing medical profession has take quality health care away from the poor. Most of the referred patients have to visit private clinics as they cannot afford to stay in town waiting for their turn in the DHQ hospital.

Few days back a student was brought to the hospital with abdominal pain. After symptomatic treatment he was discharged. The pain subsided but he did not fully recover. On the second or third visit tests were done again and the report showed some lingering infection. The doctor did ‘not take risk” and referred the patient to surgeon at the DHQ suspecting appendicitis. The surgeon carried out series of tests as the referral did not accompany previous test reports. The result was normal and the cause of pain was constipation. A single dose of medication resulted in complete recovery. According to the surgeon appendicitis cannot continue for 20 days but this simple fact was ignored by the medical officers at THQ. This entire process cost two years of academic life to the student. He missed his matriculation exam and would now wait at least for another year to pass the exam. Earlier an epilepsy patient was treated for intoxication. His medical reports available on record were not retrieved because the server was off. That patient died. He was the sole bread earner of his family. The bereaved family protested but was pacified by the community based health committee in the larger interest of the local community who had waited for so long for this hospital to become fully functional thanks to the intervention of His Highness. Once bitten twice shy the high ups of AKHSP failed to learn their lessons. If it does not have 24 hour retrieval facility and cannot send the reports with referral slips then it should allow patients to maintain their medical reports to enable them to try other avenue instead of becoming hostage to THQ and in the process save some money on test duplications.

While it is conceded that the partnership hospital experiment does have opponents but the fact remains that AKHSP is doing nothing to improve the situation to silence the critics. Instead its actions or none actions continue to fuel criticism. Medical professionals are neither fully satisfied with the personnel policy nor the salary package of AKHSP. In both areas they fare poorly as compared to their Government counterparts. Recent changes and placements have further alienated medical .. Islamuddin, Chitral 21 Mar 2017.