Financial woes threaten closure of six hospitals

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ISLAMABAD: A looming crisis grips five public sector hospitals in the federal capital and Lahore’s Shaikh Zayed Hospital as the Finance Division rejects the federal health ministry’s plea for an additional Rs 11 billion to sustain operations.

A news report by Dawn News said on Friday that this denial has cast a shadow over the functionality of these medical institutions, potentially leading to a virtual standstill.

Already, salaries for numerous employees have been halted, sparking protests among nurses at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for over a week. The situation is compounded by the imminent shutdown of hospital labs due to depleting testing kit stocks.

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Radiology tests are being declined due to the unavailability of films, and patients are being denied medications as companies await payment from overdue tenders.

The impact extends to key healthcare facilities, including PIMS, Polyclinic, Federal General Hospital, National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (NIRM), as well as dispensaries, basic health units, and ancillary departments under the health ministry. Shaikh Zayed Hospital in Lahore, reliant on federal health ministry funding, is also caught in the financial turmoil.

However, the Finance Division has cited IMF preconditions in a written response, saying that funds can only be released in the event of a disaster. Last month, the health ministry requested a supplementary grant of Rs 11.096 billion to sustain hospitals and ancillary departments, a plea now met with rejection.

Insiders warn that the Finance Division’s refusal could trigger a healthcare disaster, leading to potential shortages of medicines, testing kits, X-ray films, and other critical supplies. The financial crunch may also result in a severe shortage of medical staff, with reports suggesting that salaries for doctors, nurses, and other personnel may be discontinued in the coming months.

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