41 percent posts lying vacant in hospitals in Pakistan

Islamabad: Forty-one percent medical slots lay vacant in 72 Tehsil Headquarter Hospitals (THQs) – 777 staffers posted against the sanctioned 1,329 positions – with Sindh reporting the lowest occupancy rate of 47%, says a Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) report.

FAFEN Health Institution Monitors who visited 72 THQs in 55 districts in November reported that FATA had an occupancy rate of 69%, Punjab (68%), Balochistan (62%), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (51%) and Sindh (47%).

The report released on Thursday said, male medical officers had the highest occupancy rate of 74%. However, for certain medical staff, it fell below 40% including anaesthetists (37%), physicians (28%), ENT specialists (27%) and dermatologists (20%).

Other categories of human resource had a better occupancy rate – paramedical staff (85%), administrative (78%) and support staff (89%).

As for the availability of physical facilities, 97% THQs had labour, dental and x-ray rooms; 86% were equipped with operation rooms while 99% had laboratories. Similarly, medico-legal services were available at 93% hospitals and wards for outpatients at 82% facilities.

On the other hand, 50% hospitals lacked ophthalmology rooms. Except for one THQ in Punjab, all others had functional ambulances and all the monitored THQs had free medicines at their in-house pharmacies.

Like previous months, the data showed absence of specialized medical services in most THQs. Dermatology departments did not exist in 88% hospitals; cardiology, orthopaedic departments (85% each), ENT (82%), chest specialists (76%), pathology (71%) and ophthalmology (58%). There was also no radiology facility in 53% hospitals while 43% had no paediatrics departments and another 42% lacked surgery units.

On the positive side, 83% THQs had dental departments, gynaecology (71%) and obstetrics (71%).

As for general facilities, all THQs were connected by proper roads; 89% had good buildings, 97% had boundary walls and 96% were clean. All the THQs had electricity with 99% having fans but 69% lacked Sui gas connections.

Moreover, 97% units provided proper shades/places for waiting patients and 90% had washrooms with running water. Conversely, 15% made no arrangements for drinking water.

Fourteen percent hospitals did not have residential arrangements for staff on their premises while 13% had no such facility for doctors.

The monitored THQs referred 1,758 patients to District Headquarter Hospitals (DHQs) – Punjab (1,001 referrals by 30 THQs), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (423; 12), Sindh (250; 15), Balochistan (67; 5) and FATA (17; 2).

During the August-October 2012 quarter, 54 monitoring visits were made by government officials to the 72 THQs. The Executive District Officers (EDOs) made highest number of visits (38), – the most in Punjab (24)