Thursday September 21, 2023

Missing ventilators

By Editorial Board
January 23, 2019

An acute shortage of ventilators in the five government-run hospitals in Islamabad and Rawalpindi is putting hundreds of lives at risk. According to officials at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, they have received at least a hundred requests for beds with ventilators over the past three days alone. The hospital currently has only 10 ventilators in its medical intensive care unit and 13 in its surgical intensive care unit. Overall, the government hospitals in the twin cities own less than a 100 ventilators while the demand is far higher.

Private hospitals charge anywhere between Rs80,000 and Rs100,000 a night for a patient requiring a ventilator. This is obviously beyond the reach of many people who need medical assistance. Ventilators are considered a necessity in all hospitals which treat the critically ill. Reports state that between January and December 2017 at least 200 people died because they had no access to ventilators. It should also be noted that in 2018 there was no addition to the ventilators available at hospitals in the federal capital and Rawalpindi. Patients from surrounding villages and towns also come to these cities when in need of intensive care. A senior doctor at PIMS has suggested that the government should ensure that all private hospitals put in place a quota reserving some beds for poor patients so that they too can receive the care they require. Ventilators are often in highest demand during the winter months when pneumonia and other respiratory diseases are common, especially among the elderly and the very young.

The situation highlights the condition of even our most prestigious government-run hospitals. There is obviously a need to provide these facilities more ventilators. In addition, there have also been frequent reports about the lack of other important pieces of equipment at hospitals or the malfunctioning of various medical machines and other devices which need considerable maintenance and cannot be repaired easily. The result of all this is inevitable: a decline in the quality of patient care. Steps need to be taken to assess what our hospitals need and then ensure they get the equipment they require for seriously sick patients.