ovt hospitals ill-equipped to tackle viral onslaught: Fowzia

Karachi: Noted healthcare expert and leading neurophysician of the country, Dr Aafia Siddiqui has said the healthcare delivery in Pakistan could not be improved until rapid advancement in public sector, adding our government hospitals are ill-equipped to tackle the threat of the seasonal flu that already looms large.

Expressing concern on growing cases of the seasonal flu in different parts of the country, she said the healthcare in government sector is going constantly down. As worldwide medical advances in diagnostics and therapeutics we in Pakistan still rely on trial and error depending on the experience of the treating physician.

With changing weather and climate change new viruses and mutated old viruses have become endemic to Pakistan, she told PPI. From simple flu to dengue and chikungunya to Ebola and West Nile it is difficult to make the diagnosis and prognosis, without testing the viral cultures.

Dr Fowzia said the viral testing is now very important as there are antiviral medicines specific to treat some of these lethal infections but viral serology is very expensive in the private sector and government public sector labs lack virology screening.

She said there appears to be recent outbreak of influenza A and B (bird flu) which can be potentially lethal without specific treatment but a common Pakistani cannot afford the private test costs and there is an urgent need for virology labs in major public sector hospitals.

She said if the government is not able to establish these sophisticated labs urgently; it should give a special subsidy to the private sector to save the lives of hundreds of people this season.

She asked the a modern virology testing laboratory in Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan, in at least one public sector teaching hospital is an old demand of citizens and medical fraternity, which the government should consider on humanitarian grounds.