Pakistan

Cash-starved: Lyari General Hospital struggles for survival

Apart from being cash-starved, the state-run medical facility is also suffering from administrative inertia. PHOTO: FILE

Apart from being cash-starved, the state-run medical facility is also suffering from administrative inertia. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Hospitals are known for saving lives. But the Lyari General Hospital (LGH) is struggling for its survival.

In dire need of attention, the 500-bed public health facility is grappling with financial and administrative issues.

The hospital has been in a financial fix since the government suspended its Zakat funds.  Consequently, a significant number of underprivileged patients, who cannot afford inflated private medical facilities’ charges, were deprived of healthcare facilities.

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Apart from being cash-starved, the state-run medical facility is also suffering from administrative inertia. The understaffed medical facility has over 400 positions for doctors, nurses, and other workers that have been vacant for over a year.

“Hospital is not filling vacancies. The positions of additional medical superintendent in grade-19 and grade-20 are still vacant,” said a member of the staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hospital staff blames the provincial health authorities for the situation. Perpetual neglect has also brought renovation projects to a grinding halt.  A 25-bed trauma centre within the hospital premises has been in progress for over a decade.

Despite the financial crisis, authorities are optimistic about the medical facility’s future. While commenting on the situation, Medical Superintendent, LGH, Dr Anwer Palari claimed, “The trauma centre at the hospital is in its final phase and would be completed very soon.”

“Zakat funds were temporarily suspended due to technical issues,” Palari said.  “Funds for the hospital are expected to be restored from next quarter,” he added.

The hospital needs Rs12.2 million annually to provide treatment to poor patients.  The shortage of funds has also forced the hospital administration to temporarily close the surgical intensive care unit, the dental surgery unit and the thalassemia centre.

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When it comes to providing healthcare, Sindh is suffering from a serious shortage of facilities for its ever-growing population.

According to a report compiled by the Sindh Healthcare Commission, available with The Express Tribune, the province has 41,082 beds in 7,651 health facilities for a population of roughly 47.89 million.

This means that the province has only one hospital bed for nearly 1,200 people, which is less than half of the global hospital beds to people ratio ascertained by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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