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November 20, 2018

No access to clean drinking water and toilets in most KP hospitals


November 20, 2018

PESHAWAR: Even though the government has been spending a huge amount on curative measures, doctors and healthcare workers, the patients and attendants do not have access to clean drinking water and toilets in the majority of hospitals, both public and private sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“This is a major issue. You can hardly find a single hospital in the public or private sector where the staff or patients and their attendants have access to clean drinking water and toilets,” remarked a senior consultant at the Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) in Peshawar.

Pleading anonymity, he said his advice to his fellow colleagues and guests was always never to drink the hospital water if they were concerned about their health. “For months and sometime

in years, nobody bothers to clean the tanks supplying water to the hospitals. But

the patients and their attendants don’t have other option except using tap water in hospital,” said the medical expert.

In the hospitals, indoor patients and their attendants have access to toilets but these toilets always remain filthy due to a host of reasons. The toilets are not regularly cleaned due to shortage of sanitation staff. There is a similar situation in other public sector hospitals like the Lady Reading Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar.

According to the doctors, there is not a single hospital in the public sector in KP where patients have access to clean toilets. “The toilets at public sector hospitals are not regularly cleaned. Would you believe, the patients and attendants routinely use water of these filthy toilets,” said a physician in LRH.

About the negligence of hospital administration about drinking water, he said there is an old story told and retold that a cat fell in the water tank in LRH and the hospital authorities came to know about it after patients and their attendants felt a bad smell in the water.

“The government spends huge resources on curative measures but I have seen it rarely that enough attention is given to prevention,” said the physician. Also, majority of the patients coming to these hospitals to seek services at the outpatient departments (OPDs) don’t have access to toilets. “The males can manage to attend call of the nature but it becomes hard when a female patient needs to use a toilet in the OPDs. At least I have not seen any toilet in the OPDs for females,” said Amjad Ali, a resident of Shabqadar in Charsadda who had come to LRH with his ailing mother.

Dr Nek Dad Afridi, Hospital Director KTH, however claimed he always used the tap water of the hospital. “When I took over, I focused on this issue and started chlorination of the water being supplied to the entire hospital. After a few months, we spend Rs40,000 on chlorination and send the water samples to PCSIR for testing.

The laboratory has declared water fit for drinking,” he said.He agreed that toilets in the hospitals are often dirty. However, he pointed out that majority of the patients came from rural areas and most were not aware about the proper use of toilets. “This is the reason we have installed hand sinister in every unit. In KTH we have 740 toilets in the 1250-bed hospital and 150 sanitation workers,” said the Khyber Teaching Hospital administrator. Every year World Toilet Day is observed on November 19 to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis - a topic often neglected and shrouded in taboos.

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