Text and photos by Amar Guriro
Hothal, resident of a village in Thar, came to Karachi for the operation of her daughter’s infected toe. Being a resident of Thar, she was very well aware of the water crisis but had no idea that a ‘big’ hospital like Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) was also suffering from the same conditions, which she had observed in her village since birth.
Hothal is not alone facing difficulties of proper drinking water system at CHK, but an average of 2 million patients coming annually to the hospital for treatments are also suffering from the same situation. More than 5 million attendants coming with their patients also face the same problem. Most of these patients come from other parts of the province and also from Balochistan along with their attendants.
Official records reveal that with 42 departments including pediatrics, general surgery, neuro surgery, cardiac surgery, oncology, radiology, gynae and obstetrics, anesthesia and others and more than 2,000 beds in CHK is the biggest public sector hospital of Sindh. The records also state that annually 2 million patients are treated in this tertiary care public hospital, which was established in 1895.
Despite being such a large hospital there are no arrangements for drinking water for the patients and their attendants. The management had established two huge water tanks in the past to store water, but the hospital management has not installed a single water tap or water cooler in the premises of the hospital for the patients and their attendants.
“We have to go outside for water, but during Ramazan when most of the hotels are closed, it is very difficult to get water,” said Suleman, an attendant of a patient admitted in Ward No 05.
Though, the hospital management did nothing to provide drinking water inside the hospital, but a social welfare organization, Silani Welfare Trust has installed two huge sized tanks with water coolers, but these are not enough for such a large number of patients and their attendants.
“Sometimes these water coolers are so crowded that we have to wait for a long time to get a bottle of water,” said a female attendant outside the gynae and obstetrics ward.
Beside the acute water shortage in the hospital, the centuries’ old pipeline installed inside the hospital is outdated and needs upgradation. A senior employee told this scribe that these several decades’ old pipeline mostly burst and as a result everyone has to suffer for several days. Many people have seized this ripe opportunity to run their business by selling water bottles at higher rates as one can see many people carrying water coolers and selling a glass of water for a rupee.
On contacting the hospital management, it bluntly rejected that there was any water shortage. Medical Superintendent CHK Dr Saeed Qureshi said that there is no shortage of water for patients and their attendants. “Though, there are no separate taps and water coolers for patients, but there is no shortage and Silani Welfare Trust has already installed water coolers, therefore I don’t believe that there is any shortage.”
Though the hospital is very old, but the pipeline is not old and there is no water crisis in the premises, he added.
Saturday, September 12, 2009