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Sindh’s swift action

SINDH Health Care Commission (SHCC) on Wednesday sealed Darul Sehat Hospital’s Out-Patient Department (OPD) after Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah assured the families of nine-month-old Nashwa and a 24-year-old woman — both of whom died recently due to alleged medical malpractice — that action will be taken against hospitals responsible for their “inefficiency and criminal negligence”.
The prompt action by the Sindh Chief Minister has widely been acclaimed as this would not only provide solace to the aggrieved families but also send a strong message to all wrong-doers to mend their ways. A ban has also been imposed on new admissions in the hospital besides imposition of ban and order to transfer existing patients to other hospitals. However, the action should not be confined to penalties and an appropriate mechanism should be devised to regulate working of the private medical institutions. It is shocking to learn that eighty percent of the staff of the said hospital was untrained which meant they were playing with the life of the patients. Private hospitals are charging heavy fee and charges for consultation, treatment, admission and diagnostic services but they do not hire properly qualified and experienced staff. Despite charging of heavy fee, they do not provide quality services and victims do not know where to go for redressal of their grievances. What happened in the Karachi hospital is a tip of the iceberg as things are worse in majority of private and public medical institutions where many patients have died in the past due to neglect, non-professional behaviour and even new-born babies disappeared. Sindh Chief Minister has asked Commissioner of Karachi to conduct survey of the city’s private medical institutions to verify qualifications of the staff. However, it would be appropriate to carry out a similar exercise not just all parts of Sindh but in other provinces of the country as well where similar complaints surface regularly. Things can improve substantially if the authorities concerned take action just on media reports that point out criminal negligence and unprofessional behaviour of staff in clinics and hospitals.