THE photograph in this newspaper of a new children’s complex at a hospital in Vehari that has yet to be opened because it is awaiting an electricity connection is a reminder of how little importance is given to healthcare in this country.
What is particularly disappointing about this instance is that the hospital project is a joint effort with an NGO (which provided the equipment and furniture), and the delay in its opening sends bad signals to donor communities wanting to collaborate with the government on similar social uplift projects. The reason given for the delay is Multan’s electrical power company’s inability to install a new transformer. That it could take five months for such a task is shocking, especially because it involves a children’s hospital, which is desperately needed in the area. But clearly no one is pushed about the hospital being opened on a priority basis, except for the poor parents. Those in charge of the hospital should be taken to task for their negligence on the delay in the matter.
In view of the low priority given to healthcare, especially children’s, health-related statistics have always been abysmal: the infant mortality rate is 80 per 1,000 live births while the number for the under-five bracket is 101. Children grow up in poor sanitary conditions with no access to clean drinking water or emphasis on proper nutrition. And the government does not spend as much as it should on preventive health, be it on vaccinations or on ensuring the supply of clean water. Healthcare must be seen as a right and not privilege. For this to happen, elected representatives have to change their attitudes and fight for more funds for healthcare in their localities in the same way they would fight for more funds for other projects. The government must show a steely will in safeguarding children’s health.