The shortage of drugs in two major public hospitals in the provincial capital has sounded the alarm, seriously threatening the lives of patients.
Although the emergency departments of both hospitals provided treatment facilities for patients, many of them were told to go to near-medical stores to buy medicine themselves.
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The issue has surfaced as the Punjab government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is considering options to form its cabinet and the health portfolio is also awaiting the relevant health minister.
According to sources, public hospitals had been facing drug shortages for quite a long time but the situation has further deteriorated.
“I came from Kasur to have my child checked but they didn’t give us any medicine,” said a man at the main entrance of Jinnah Hospital. He said the pharmacy staff told him to go to the market to buy injections and other medicine.
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A woman, who was an attendant with a patient, shared the same ordeal after visiting the ENT department. She said she could not afford to buy medicine for her mother due to inflation.
The situation was no different at the ward hospital.
“I spent almost half an hour in a long queue and when I got to the pharmacy counter they just refused to give me medicine,” said Muhammad Arshad, a man who was attendant with his elderly father.
“My father suffers from cough, pain and congestion. The doctor examined my father and prescribed him medicine,” he said, showing the prescription in his hand.
There was also a long line of women waiting their turn to get medicine. “I and many other women waited a long time for our turn to reach the counter where a man was tending to people. Why don’t they delegate another person to the pharmacy to facilitate people? This is serious business, but no one cares about us,” she said angrily.
An elderly man sitting next to the pharmacy felt that he could not afford to buy medicine at the market. I don’t have money to buy medicine but there is no other option.
He said the health sector had been ruined and the common man had been left helpless by leaders and policy makers. “Tell me where I should go now,” he demanded.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, the Punjab Health Secretary, Ali Jan Khan, requested reports from the medical superintendents of the Services and Jinnah hospitals.
Punjab Health Department Spokesperson and Deputy Director of Public Relations, Syed Hammad Raza said: “Punjab Health Secretary Ali Jan Khan has taken note of the shortage of drugs at the hospital. and services in Jinnah,” noting that the health secretary had requested reports from medical supervisors.
‘No patient should have any problem obtaining medical facilities, including medicines,’ he said, quoting the health secretary.