By Jehangir Khan Tareen
MULTAN, May 28 (APP): Health and education are considered to be the two major factors for putting a country on the path of progress and prosperity worldwide because no country can make headways without focusing on them.
The quality of life index of a country for its citizens can be gauged from the quality of education and health being provided and how much the subsequent government is spending on these two sectors.
Punjab being the biggest province in term of population, needs more health facilities to cater its growing population. Its southern part is home to 32 percent (34.7 million) people residing in three divisions including Multan, Bahawalpur and DG Khan, where a large number of people dwell in rural areas.
Besides Tertiary Care Teaching Hospitals in major cities, it has District Headquarter, Tehsil Headquarters Hospitals, Basic Health Units (BHUs), Rural Health Centres (RHCs) and dispensaries to cater its rural population.
Multan being the centre of South Punjab, has Nishtar Hospital, the biggest health facility with 1700 beds, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi Institute of Cardiology (CPEIC), Children Complex, Multan Institute of Kidney Diseases (MIKD), Shehbaz Sharif Hospital, Pak Italian Modern Burn Unit, Fatima Jinnah Hospital and some town hospitals in the public sector for catering patients from across the region.
Patients not only from South Punjab, but Balochistan and KPK pour into Nishtar Hospital as it is the only general hospital in Multan and geographically located in the middle of the country.
Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department South Punjab, Mahar Hayat Lak said that BHUs were working round the clock wherein Out Patients Department (OPD), Emergency, Preventive Services (Immunization) Ultrasound, OTP sites and schoolchildren screening services were available.
As far as health infrastructure in rural South Punjab is concerned, the region has 578 BHUs, 112 RHCs and 380 dispensaries.
He informed that as many as 1034 ambulances were catering to the patients in rural areas in addition to ECG, Dental Unit, X-Ray Unit, MLC and TB clinics working in RHCs.
Victoria Hospital Bahawalpur has also been serving masses of the area since long and 200 bedded Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Buzdar Institute of Cardiology in DG Khan will also facilitate cardiac patients in future.
Lak maintained that the Punjab government had injected billions of rupees for improving health infrastructure in the region especially after establishment of South Punjab Secretariat and added that modern machinery and provision of medicines were the top priority.
“A healthy body carries a healthy mind and of course, health is the real wealth,” the secretary commented.
“Facilitation of people at their doorsteps, monitoring and evaluation of service delivery mechanism, enhancing service delivery in all health centres and zero tolerance on quackery prevailing in South Punjab are P&SHC dept’s prime focus,” he elaborated.
South Punjab is a stone belt and a number of people are suffering from renal diseases owing to bad quality water and excessive usage of salt and beverages especially in rural areas of South Punjab, clinicians believe.
Though urology wards are part of DHQs, THQ and other public hospitals of the region, Multan Institute of Kidney Diseases (MIKD) is a dedicated facility which is not less than a blessing for patients from urban and rural populations of South Punjab.
Pakistan Medical Association president and renowned surgeon, Dr Masoodur Rauf Hiraj said it was a fact that budding doctors hesitate to serve in peripheries and prefer cities.
He said the PMA kept on not only motivating young doctors to serve in rural areas as part of their professional duties but also do efforts to resolve their issues if any.
He suggested that the government should build dedicated hospitals for viral and other diseases to cure people in a better way.
“We have general hospitals in the South but need specialized hospitals too for improving overall health infrastructure in the region.”Dr Hiraj observed.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital (RTEH) Muzaffargarh, which was built in 2014, is a tertiary care hospital with 400 beds and is covering a huge number of patients from adjoining areas of the city. Its expansion started in 2017 and was accomplished next year.
Locally known as Turkey hospital, the health facility has a unique quality that food is cooked for every patient as advised by the doctor or nutritionist.
The number of Hospitals for children in the region is quite less than the requirements, said Dean Children Complex, Multan, Dr Kashif Chishti, adding people from far flung areas visit the health facility for treatment of their kids.
“The government should enhance the number of children hospitals in the region. A new mother & child care hospital was under construction in Multan and different hospitals have Paed wards too but these are still insufficient,“ he deplored.
Every district has a District Health Development centre in South Punjab where doctors, nurses, Lady Health Workers (LHWs) and paramedics and vaccinators are imparted training for improving their services at BHUs, RHCs and dispensaries.
DHDC Multan Programme Coordinator, Dr Asif Nasrullah, who is a pulmonologist, said UNICEF and WHO were working a lot for improving health infrastructure generally in the country and particularly in South Punjab.
He noted that DHDC vaccinated kids against polio and the general public for COVID- 19, and the vaccination was still continue.
He stated that the centres were playing an important role of training to make master trainers who could train others at BHUs and RHCs etc.