Pakistan

A ventilator could have saved child’s life

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MOHAMMAD SALEEM

FAISALABAD: Zahid knew he was racing against time. With the passage of every moment, two-year old Abu Bakar, his nephew, was losing gasps and vomiting blood in his arms. It was Friday (April 17, evening).

The toddler, who had consumed a mosquito repellent, needed medical treatment urgently.

Zahid said they took the child to a clinic in the neighbourhood where the doctor advised to take him to some hospital where ventilator was available.

They rushed to a private hospital in Abdullahpur where the crucial two hours were wasted. He said the hospital doctors tried to supply oxygen manually, and when the child did not improve, doctors asked them to arrange a ventilator or check out.

Their next destination was Allied Hospital. The paediatrics ward of Allied Hospital also refused to get the child in. He alleged the staff said they had only two ventilators, which were already in use.

The family rushed the child to a private hospital in Gulistan Colony begging for treatment. They managed to get the child admitted and put him on the ventilator. But that was too late. Abu Bakr died at the hospital within a half hour.

Abu Bakr is addition to the child casualty list of Faisalabad hospitals.

Due to the absence of facilities, sources say, from January to October in 2014, 2,136 children died at the paediatric wards of Allied Hospital.

The deadly figure in 2013 was 3,309. In 2009, the reported deaths of children were 1,500 and in 2007, 8,942.

The figures of private hospitals are not available.

Zahid says dealing with the doctors of Allied Hospital was an ordeal never to be forgotten.

“A lady doctor on duty asked us to move the child to the ICU of the ward. At the ward, doctors said they had five ventilators, of them two were occupied and three were out of order.”

Healthcare facilities for children are insufficient in public district hospitals which have only three wards.

In 1996, the number of child patients admitted to Allied Hospital was 2,000 that rose to more than 22,000 in 2013.

The ward of the Allied hospital has a 15-bed emergency and a 16-bed nursery, while a paediatrics ward-III began an emergency ward a couple of days ago.

The Punjab government had sent a three-member committee, consisting of Prof Humayun Iqbal, Dr Jamil and Mazhar Husain, to the Allied hospital in November to look into facilities for child patients.

Allied Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Rashid Maqbool said no patient was refused admission regardless of unavailability of the ventilator.

He said paediatric ICU and nursery wards had professors, associate and assistant professors, senior registrars, medical officers and nursing staff.

He said senior doctors were available during night duty.

Zahid says whatever the government claims about the availability of facilities at public hospitals, the fact is Abu Bakr was denied admission to the hospital and that he is dead and is in eternal peace.

“But those painful moments dealing with doctors will haunt us forever.”

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2015

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