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Maternity crisis in Multan: Overcrowded hospital delays childbirths, sparking concerns for mothers

Bilal Hayat

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Read In Urdu

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Maternity crisis in Multan: Overcrowded hospital delays childbirths, sparking concerns for mothers

Bilal Hayat

loop

Read In Urdu

Amber, who resides in the inner city of Multan, was brought to the District Headquarters Hospital for childbirth. However, she had to wait for quite some time at the main entrance due to a rush. When she was finally taken to the maternity ward, her operation was delayed by more than eight hours, resulting in the death of her baby.

Amber’s operation took place in the DHQ (District Headquarters) Hospital’s section, formerly known as the Fatima Jinnah Women’s Hospital. Established in 2007, it provided facilities for labour rooms and operation theatres for pregnant and expectant women. In 2017, the nearby Government Shahbaz Sharif Hospital was constructed, which was then upgraded to the District Headquarters Hospital status. Fatima Jinnah Women’s Hospital in Multan was renamed to its current designation. After that, no significant attention was given to improving the facilities.

The hospital receives a significant number of women from across the district for treatment, but for childbirth, there is only one operation theatre and a labour room with five beds available. There are 40 beds for admitted patients. In the morning, the duties are carried out by a doctor in the outdoor Ward, one in the operation theatre, and one in the labour room. In the evening and at night, a gynaecologist is available.

Mrs Faraz, a resident of Daulat Gate, shares her experience at this hospital, saying that when she and her husband visited the DHQ Hospital, she was seven months pregnant. Many women were waiting outside the labour room.

“Even after several hours, I could only get an initial check-up. I had to return to the hospital the next day for an ultrasound, enduring the same waiting and discomfort.”

She explains that her husband brought her to the hospital at midnight at the time of her childbirth. However, the hospital staff refused to admit her without conducting any medical examination and advised her to go to Nishtar Hospital without any medical assessment.

Her husband says that if he had begun arguing, it would have put his wife’s life in danger. Therefore, he silently rushed to Nishtar Hospital, where they found a crowded labour room. The condition of beds and cleanliness arrangements were also so bad. He was forced to take his wife to Al-Shifa Hospital, where the child was delivered via operation.

Regarding the District Headquarters Hospital conditions, Dr Irum, the gynaecologist on duty, explains that a single doctor can’t examine hundreds of patients during an eight-hour shift. Due to the shortage of doctors, patients have to endure long waits. The issue at this hospital is not just the shortage of doctors but also the lack of space.

She explained that approximately 20 women come to their hospital for childbirth daily, of which 16 are for surgeries and 4-5 are normal cases.

According to MS, they lack specialised care units, so they are often forced to refer complex cases to Nishtar Hospital.

“Only six gynaecologists are available, who work in three different shifts, providing treatment and conducting operations for the patients. The number of women coming to the outdoor clinic daily is more than 345. Considering the number of patients, the availability of gynaecologists is significantly limited.”

Dr Saima mentions that despite their limited workforce, she and her colleagues try their best to provide comprehensive medical facilities to the women coming to the hospital.

According to data obtained from the hospital, in 2022, 4,500 women gave birth on their various campuses. In September of the current year, 537 deliveries took place, with 183 being normal cases and 317 being births through surgeries.

Dr Faisal Qaisrani, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Health, states that the Punjab government is following directives to provide medical facilities to female patients, and the functionality of health centres and district headquarters hospitals is being improved.

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He says that in the Multan district, which has a population of over 5 million, there are only 1,800 Lady Health Workers to manage the mother and child health program. Due to the shortage of these workers, achieving all the IRMNCH program’s objectives becomes challenging.

The National Maternal and Newborn Child Health (IRMNCH) program aims to improve the health of mothers and newborn children.

In the district of Multan, complete facilities for women are not available in other government hospitals either. There are 82 health centres in the district, each of which has only one Lady Health Worker and one Midwife. There are only eight Roller Health Centers, three Town Hospitals and two THQ Hospitals across the district, with inadequate facilities for pregnant women.

When Deputy Commissioner of Multan, Captain (R) Rizwan Qadeer, was questioned about the measures to ensure the health of mothers and babies, he stated that the establishment of Nishtar 2 and Mother and Child Hospitals was underway. When they are fully functional, there will be an improvement in addressing these issues.

Published on 17 Oct 2023

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