Mian Abdul Ghaffar, a 45-year-old, suffers from severe pain in the Dialysis Ward of District Headquarters Hospital Nankana Sahib. The reason is that the essential injection, ‘Heparin,’ which is used to thin the blood, was not administered to him during the dialysis.
If Heparin is not injected during dialysis, blood tends to clot within the dialysis machine, subjecting the patient to excruciating pain. Furthermore, there’s a risk of blood clots moving through the body and potentially causing an arterial rupture in the brain.
Abdul Ghaffar reveals that Heparin has been unavailable at the hospital for a considerable duration. He used to manage to borrow this injection for dialysis previously. However, due to a lack of funds this time, he had to undergo dialysis without the injection. This has led to his deteriorating condition.
Mian Abdul Ghaffar resides in Warburton, a suburb of Nankana Sahib. He used to support his wife and three children by repairing car tires. Unfortunately, he developed kidney disease during this period.
Abdul Ghaffar elaborates that Heparin injections were formerly provided free of charge at the government hospital. Now, they are quite expensive in the market. Those unable to afford it must endure physical pain and psychological distress during dialysis.
According to hospital records, the dialysis ward is equipped with 28 machines. Daily, around one hundred patients undergo dialysis here. Nonetheless, the non-availability of blood-thinning injections is causing significant hardships for the patients.
Mohammad Tayyab, a Technician at the Dialysis Ward, points out that there was a shortage of Heparin during the peak of the Coronavirus epidemic. Unfortunately, the injection is still not accessible. The market price for this injection is seven hundred rupees, but it’s being illicitly sold on the black market for around 1800 to 2000 rupees.
Dr Muhammad Afzal Sandhila serves as the Medical Superintendent of DHQ Hospital. He explains that the Heparin injection is unavailable from the manufacturer. He has issued orders for deserving patients to receive the injection through local procurement.
At DHQ Hospital Nankana, the issue isn’t limited to the Heparin injection alone. The lack of availability of various medicines, including diabetes insulin and proper machinery, is causing significant challenges for patients. The annual budget of DHQ Hospital is 81.6 million rupees, and around 250 to 300 patients visit the outpatient department here daily.
Sixty-five-year-old Mohammad Boota, a resident of Old Nankana, was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago. He shares that initially, doctors prescribed medication which he diligently took. Unfortunately, his sugar levels continued to rise.
He explains that during a visit to DHQ Hospital for a check-up, the doctor informed him that, along with medication, he needed to inject insulin. The doctor provided a prescription and recommended purchasing insulin from the market.
“I informed the doctor that I can’t afford to buy insulin. I asked for insulin from the hospital. However, the doctor told me that the hospital had run out of insulin, and he could do nothing.”
Due to the unavailability of insulin at DHQ, new diabetic patient registrations have been suspended. Pre-registered patients are also being advised to obtain insulin from the market.
According to records, 125 diabetic patients are registered at DHQ. They are provided with one vial of insulin per person every fortnight. However, patients are now compelled to purchase these injections from the market for Rs 1,200 to 1,500.
Asif Ali, the pharmacy in charge of the hospital, states that last year, the budget was allocated for 200 insulins per month. At that time, the hospital had 70 registered diabetic patients. Due to the increase in patients, the insulin supply was depleted two months ago in April.
He explains that the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Authority manages the supply of insulin to the hospital, while DHQ Hospital provides the budget. The hospital administration has been informed about the patient count.
However, the issues don’t stop here. The digital X-ray machine at DHQ has been nonfunctional for several months, resulting in distressing consequences for patients.
Rao Zafar, in charge of X-rays, reveals that around 200 X-rays were previously performed daily at the hospital. Now, patients are being referred elsewhere for the procedure. The official fee for a digital X-ray is Rs 150. Yet, the private laboratory charges patients Rs 1,500 for the same X-ray.
Zafar notes that the X-ray machine has been repaired multiple times but breaks down again after a few months.
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MS Dr Afzal clarifies that a technical fault in the digital X-ray machine necessitated sending its parts to Lahore for repair. There’s optimism that it will be fixed soon.
The situation in the heart ward at DHQ is equally concerning. Mohammad Shoaib from Nankana Sahib shares that his mother, suffering from heart disease, was hospitalised for two days but didn’t receive any medicine from the hospital store, even for a day.
CEO of Health Nankana, Dr Azhar Amin, assures that the issues concerning medicines and machinery will be addressed when the budget is released this month. The supply of diabetic insulin will also resume in August.
He mentions that 24,000 insulins have been ordered for the entire province this week, with the laboratory test report expected in a week. Subsequently, insulin will be provided to the patients.
Published on 24 Aug 2023