Medical Care in Pakistan

‘In the name of Hypocrites, doctors have invented the most exquisite form of torture ever known to man: survival’.
Edward Everett Hale

It was during July 2011, in the area of Nau Kagha, in Khanewal. A young man 26-year-old Munir Ahmed consulted Dr Shakil Ahmed, a basic health unit doctor, for medication since he was suffering from fever. Dr. Shakil asked his naib qasid to administer him an injection and ended up giving the wrong injection to the youth. The 26-year-old therefore ended up being paralysed and lost his eyesight due to the doctor’s negligent medical care.

Munir Ahmed is one name of an endless list of poor souls who have suffered in one horrendous way or the other due to a lack of medical care in the State of Pakistan. Unfortunately, rather than the national medical care, Hilary Clinton’s phone call to Yousaf Raza Gilani is the biggest worry that tenses his mind.

The problem is worsened by natural disasters that leave the country devastated such as the case of floods and earthquakes. Even now, the current poor environmental and hygiene situation, a lack of safe drinking water, little to no access to health-care services, poorly maintained latrines, and cramped and crowded shelters all increase the chance of diseases being contracted and spread about amongst communities. As they do spread, it just amplifies the never-ending dilemma.

There are many diseases that may not be life-threatening such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. But these diseases are becoming much more serious and dangerous due to a lack of access to medical services.  People, living in urban areas, may not find it difficult but it is incredibly hard for those in rural areas to get help from a doctor in an emergency situation. On the other hand, medical facilities are damaged, essential medical supplies destroyed and access to health care can be limited or prevented because of the current condition of the infrastructure.

Pregnant women and new mothers experience a lack of medical care including no access to birthing attendants, hospitals, medical equipment or other forms of health care. Some women, especially in rural areas, are forced to deliver in unhealthy environments risking some complications to become life-threatening because of medical care being inaccessible. Likewise, people who are taking medications to treat long-time illnesses such as tuberculosis can have their treatment interrupted and this can cause drug resistance.

As the circumstances continue to worsen, so does the challenge for the authorities. The Pakistani Government is facing a daunting task of raising money to rehabilitate victims and rebuild affected areas as natural disasters like floods during the monsoon season take their toll on the economic situation of the country.

The deteriorating economy is frustrating the nation and some Pakistanis have grown increasingly angry with the slothful government progress and are turning to Islamic charities some of which are associated with militant groups.

The fact that Islamic charities are tied to militant groups complicates the already difficult task of relief and reconstruction and replacing stocks of medicine that continue to run out.

Doctors – practitioners of medicine – are bestowed with the gift of saving lives and helping people. Like Edward Everett Hale says above, doctors have invented survival – the most exquisite form of torture. However, circumstances are such that other kinds of torture exist now in Pakistan – pain, suffering, neglect, lack of care and hardships. Now, in order to solve the dilemma of the lack of medical care, the country needs able physicians who focus and not neglect and enough money to finance medical staff, buildings, supplies and so on. We all know this is the solution but the question is when will the solution happen? How will it happen?

Let us all hope and actually work together well and close enough so we make the solution happen quickly and as soon as possible through the name of humanity for all humanity.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Lahore Times.

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