Mass graves and the filth that is our government hospitals

Published: June 27, 2015

A relative of a heatstroke victim waits at a hospital in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

The sun was at its zenith and the temperature and humidity were at its peak. Karachi, the city of lights, has been a victim of a severe heat wave which has resulted in the loss of more than a thousand precious lives. Unfortunately, the occurrence of such natural disasters highlights the dire situation of relief and care facilities available to the mass populace of Karachi.

They say you can’t take nature head on when it decides to wreak havoc on us. But the least we can do is take preliminary steps to minimise the damage it may cause. Unfortunately, our government has been reactive rather than proactive in such situations. Their lethargic and laid-back attitude just cost us thousands of lives.

There are two types of people in our nation – the common man and the assembly member. The former helps the dying common man on the street while the latter sits in air-conditioned rooms, watching the common man burn in the heat.

The increase in population – whether it is due to the increasing birth rates or the rural to urban migration – has definitely resulted in the dwindling of the health resources available to the city.

The suffering patients admitted in the foul-smelling wards of the hospitals couldn’t thank the deadly heat wave more as it forced the media, politicians, and the public to at least look towards the sufferings of a common man in government hospitals.

The heatstroke camps resulted in a multitude of volunteers handing out water and refreshment supplies to the patients. The patients were amazed to see volunteers distributing water and ORS for hydration. The heatstroke turned out to be a menace for some and a blessing for others.

Sindh has an estimated amount of Rs47 billion in the annual provincial budget for the maintenance and operation of government-run facilities. These hospitals are a glaring evidence of how the allocated budget coinage never reaches their desired destination.

Patient wards are equally deplorable. They reek of putrid smells and the same can be said about the washrooms of the hospitals. The sewer lines are broken with filthy water leaking through these pipes. The allotted air-conditioning quota of the hospitals’ wards never reaches its full capacity. The beds are overused, the fans dusty, the floors muddy and the medicines scarce.

I feel this is barbaric. The common man is afraid of falling ill, not because there is no cure to his ailment, but due to the fact that he will have to suffer the filth of the government hospitals. And then arrives the heat wave, which awoken the army, media, and the public to help the people suffering in this heat.

As a matter of fact, the aid provided by the mentioned bodies is needed at these care facilities throughout the year and not just when we are faced by a natural disaster or other emergencies. These ailing patients need medicine, their sweaty heads need cold water, their dehydrated bodies need hydration, and their weak shoulders need support.

The heat wave, or any natural disaster that befalls us, forces the public to take the situation in their own hands and because of this, patients get the attention they deserve, or at least, a part of it.

Let’s not make them believe that the heat wave was a blessing for them, as if someone had finally heard their pleas and cries. More importantly, let’s not make it a one-time aid program which kick starts only during emergencies.

Let’s stand with them on a regular basis so that the next time we are not a 1000 deaths too late.

Let’s take a stand now so that we do not have to witness more mass graves.

Sohaib Chatriwala

Sohaib Chatriwala

The author Civil Engineer. He likes writing about politics, sports, literature, history, current issues, and poetry. He tweets as @SohaibChatri

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Dr. Anwar Hassan

    The first step is not the government, or the water board or the k-electric. It is you, the people. Drink one glass of water every 2 hours and stay out of the sun. You will be fine. Avoid dehydration at all cost. Once you are dehydrated you will die (no water, no ambulance, no beds, no doctors).

    Break your fast at the start of not feeling well,,,not at the end.

    Dr. Anwar HassanRecommend

  • wb

    “The sun was at its zenith and the temperature and humidity were at its peak.”

    I don’t understand this. Humidity actually saves lives from heat. In India people don’t die from extreme heat in Chennai or Mumbai. Because they’re humid. But the driest air of Andhra and Telangana always kills people in peak summer.

    So, how’s it possible that despite himidity people died in Karachi?Recommend

  • faridahsan

    Very nicely put Sohaib. Infact, I unfortunately do believe that it WAS a blessing for such Government hospitals which got the highly-awaited attention they deserved and now everybody is writing and making videos about how very horrible these places are. It is funny. I mean, these hospitals have been like this for ages. It took the heat wave for them to realize how they should have had better facilities to hydrate the victims at such hospitals, how filthy and malodorous their corridors are and the priceless expression on their faces when they heard that these hospitals didn’t have air-conditioning. Very funny indeed. Its not a very small world after all I guess.Recommend