By Shams RN
Chitral is facing a worst mental health crisis and suicide attempts. Simultaneously, quack doctors are putting lives of citizens in more danger. Medical facilities are non-existent while proper treatments for patients seem to be a dream.
The story of the incapability and unprofessionalism of doctors serving in different hospitals in Chitral is not new. Even minor diseases such as flue, cold and pneumonia are hardly cured by them.
It was in 2005 when my uncle got his leg broken in the winter. Without wasting time we moved him to the main city hospital in Chitral. An X-ray was done which showed his leg bone was shuttered. After God now he was at the mercy of doctors. A doctor plastered his leg without proper fixation of the misplaced bone.
After two months, it transpired that the broken pieces were not fixed properly. He hardly managed some loans from relatives and moved to Islamabad. His smashed bones were fixed again at a cost of severe pain and financial burden.
Recently, I met another poor family from Chitral wandering between hospitals in Islamabad. He was also a victim of those quacks back home. The husband of the patient narrated the painful story. He said his spouse fell down and got severe pain in his upper arm along with shoulder. They went to a hospital and after an x-ray the doctor said it got cracks and referred the patient to the main city hospital. The well-known quack ‘I mean orthopedist’ confirmed after examining x-rays that it was broken. The doctor further said as it is broken in the shoulder joint so we can’t plaster it and advised the patient to keep her arm in acute angle firmly with the help of a band till it gets fixed on its own. When the patient got no relief after this, they again went to the city hospital. This time the doctor referred the case to Islamabad. As health is the top priority, the victim moved out of Chitral, how they managed this is another story.
After examining the same x-rays in Islamabad, the doctor lamented that was visible from the x-rays that the bone was not broken, it was just a flesh slip but damage was already done. Indeed it was a moment of mourning for all of us and for the victims who suffered a lot because of those quacks. Now her arm is not moving from the fixed position due to unnecessary fixed position for a long period. The doctors advised an operation if it not fixed with other treatment and exercise. The family is suffering because they didn’t find professional doctors.
Many stories of such incidents are common. A teenager boy went to the city hospital in Chitral and complained about his eyesight a few years ago. The eye specialist advised him to use eyeglasses and gave him the specification of eyeglasses to be used. His eyes further got painful and even he became unable to see anything. The boy immediately moved to Shifa Eye Hospital in Islamabad. They were late and damage was already done because of those glasses. His one eye was replaced at a cost of Rs175,000.
The lists of victims are innumerable but the quacks are still enjoying their high profile positions in the city hospital because poor people can’t drag them to court. The despondency of local people is increasing day by day and the apathy of doctors is at its peak, not to talk of the negligence of the KP government.
As proper medical facility was the top priority of the incumbent government but in reality it is getting worse. The people of Chitral are living with a hope of change one day but don’t know when.
(The author is Islamabad-based columnist. Shams.firstname.lastname@example.org).