Piled up like sardines in the MCH services, crèche
Islamabad: Saleema Meharban was appalled at what she saw on a recent visit to mother and child hospital for her first trimester screening: there were two women per bed in maternity wards with no privacy protections .
For the 27-year-old private teacher, it was also heartbreaking to see three to four babies kept in each crib in the special care nursery due to their increased susceptibility to infection.
Although this is her first visit to the hospital, which is part of the city’s largest public sector medical institution, PIMS, she has decided not to be there for the delivery.
“It’s a terrible sight. The women were crowded [maternity ward] beds, two to a bed, while the adjacent labor rooms echoed with the cries and moans of women giving birth in the presence of rude medical personnel. I was even more distressed after finding all these women naked from the waist down. Probably reluctantly, they exposed themselves to strangers because Pakistani women usually never allow their privacy to be violated,” she told ‘The News’.
“I can’t stand all of this and I would prefer to give birth in a private clinic or even at home because this option, although a bit burdensome for my family, will give me due pelvic intimacy and the newborn a clean newborn environment. hygienic to breathe,” she said.
Doctors acknowledged a woman’s right to privacy during childbirth, but blamed the misery of patients on the hospital’s ‘falling’ bed capacity.
“First, our hospital [MCH] has not been expanded since it opened in 1998 with Japanese funding and secondly, patient arrivals are increasing rapidly, so we have to accommodate mothers and their babies to the limited space available on the premises,” said a gynecologist under condition of anonymity as she was not authorized to speak to the media.
According to her, the Children’s has only 156 beds but has to cater to the influx of obstetric patients from Islamabad as well as Rawalpindi, Murree, Upper Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. They include emergency and referral cases and those that just show up and cannot be turned away due to complications.
On average, the hospital cares for 300 outpatients and manages 23 deliveries, including caesarean sections, daily as well as other surgical procedures. It has one operating room for laparoscopy and three for elective and emergency cases, and four labor room tables.
The doctor said that although the number of visitors has increased over the years, the government has neither increased the hospital’s bed capacity nor recruited more support staff, including nurses, midwives, ward boys and sanitation workers, for better patient care.
She said the MCH had more than 90 vacancies, the filling of which was blocked by the government’s ban on recruiting new candidates.
“After years of neglect by successive governments, The Children’s is struggling to find the goods. Two patients in a bed and three to four newborns in a crib have become the norm. Things are sure to get worse if its expansion is further delayed, more support staff are not hired and patient arrivals are not regulated,” she said.
Another doctor requested the rapid upgrade of conventional operating theaters to modular operating theaters as well as the installation of a modern sterilization plant for infection control at the Children’s.
When contacted, PIMS Director Dr Khalid Masud insisted that the hospital was working to improve patient care with the support of the Ministry of National Health Services.
“The Japanese aid agency, JICA, which had helped set up the MCH and children’s hospital at PIMS, is working to expand the two facilities. I hope the number of beds at the Children’s will increase by 50% in two years, but I still say that it will be too few given the growing number of patients. We need another 300-bed medical building to do what is expected of us,” he said.
Dr Masud backed the referral system, but insisted the idea needed political will to execute. He said no government hospital in the country followed this model.
He said refusing to admit patients from outside Islamabad would cause a backlash the hospital could not afford.