Punjab has been so focused on building roads that it forgot about hospitals.
“Health has never been a priority,” said SAMAA’s Lahore bureau chief Ahmad Waleed. “The Orange Line and Metro projects got more attention and funds.”
He was speaking during a special government post-mortem broadcast on Monday.
The PML-N government set up 20 new hospitals in Punjab but it ignored the already functioning ones. “The Punjab government deserves no more than 5 out of 10,” a Lahore resident told SAMAA. “Our rulers didn’t even build a single hospital where they could send their own families for treatment.”
The health budget had almost doubled in the last five years. In the last budget, Punjab had Rs230 billion to spend on it.
“People from interior Punjab and smaller cities and villages have to travel to Lahore for treatment,” added bureau chief Ahmad Waleed.
This is also happening in Balochistan. “Two female patients died in Dera Bugti a few weeks ago because the district hospital had no lady gynaecologist,” said Jalal Noorzai, the Quetta bureau chief.
Karachi is more fortunate. Government hospitals here are comparatively better compared to those in the rest of the province, said Karachi bureau chief Faryal Arif.
The PPP-led Sindh government set up five cardiovascular hospitals in current tenure. But Arif pointed out that much of this was accomplished with the help of USAID and private organizations.
All this must be considered against the context of Sindh having the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country after Balochistan. Women are dying while giving birth.
“Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho had to face the wrath of Chief Justice Saqib Nisar when he told the bench that infants in Tharparkar were dying of malnutrition,” she said.
Story first published: 9th April 2018