Improving Sanitation in Government Hospitals
As the clock strikes and it is time for the clinical rotation, I feel reluctant to go to the hospital. It is, however not because I have to get out of my comfort zone. No doubt that sitting and attending lectures comfortably in the lecture hall is easy and the very idea of having to go out in the scorching heat is something not pleasing to the mind, but this is not the reason behind idleness in going to the hospital. The problem lies basically in the unsanitary conditions of the hospital.
These views are not just mine; they are shared by a major chunk of medical students studying in government medical colleges in our country. One student even announced that she would want to attend ‘clinical’ lectures in the university, rather than have them in the government hospitals. No matter how good the education standard of these universities is, the sad plight of the hospitals is quite opposite. There are garbage litters everywhere. The hospital is supposed to be a heaven for the patients but the attitude of nurses and other staff is usually not polite. Some are even harsh. A hospital based study published in Journal of Pakistan Medical Association states that the problems faced by patients in government setups are related mainly to hospital management, doctors’ attitude and responsibility and also to patients’ illiteracy and poverty.
This calls for adequate measures by higher authorities to rectify the situation. Another study published in the aforementioned journal throws light on the treatment practices of the staff. It points out that like many other developing countries, prescription and dispensing practices are not satisfactory in the public sector health facilities of Pakistan. Appropriate and workable solutions need to be developed and implemented in the country to improve systems. Regular audits and qualitative studies should become part of the effort.
In such a situation, it is the duty of medical students to raise their voice against this issue. Sufferers are the poor people who have to put up with these conditions as they do not have any other choice. Many even acquire new diseases during their hospital stay, prolonging their ailment and depression simultaneously. But as future doctors we should feel their agitation and bring about the change that is required in these hospitals and which the patients aspire for. Therefore the environment of the hospitals should be cleaned hygienically and the garbage should be cleared to provide a clean environment to the people. The staff should also be educated to be accommodating and friendly towards the patients so that a favorable atmosphere is created.
I questioned many doctors and nursing staff of such hospitals. Majority had the notion that indeed the conditions need colossal improvement. They speculated that the foremost reason behind this was corruption at all levels, and secondarily illiteracy among both the patients and even the hospital staff about immaculateness and its importance. When asked how this crack could be filled, they deduced that the above mentioned causes should be corrected. Corruption should be curtailed and educational level of the public and staff should be improved. This way we will not only have a friendly but also a tidy atmosphere.
In order to achieve the above targets, a number of social and student organizations are striving hard to bring about the necessary change and raise the cleanliness level of these hospitals. They organize campaigns and indulge students and others alike to participate in this healthy cause. Seminars are also arranged to create awareness about the importance of a healthy environment and its role especially in improving the lives of patients.
I spoke to the advisor of one such student organization. She comprehends that such unhealthy conditions in government hospitals are pretty much neglected. Her organization tries to facilitate cleanliness and hygiene control in the wards. However, higher authorities should also help and support such teams in any possible way that they can, she concluded.
In spite of all the hard work on part of these student organizations, these endeavors are not sufficient because although their attempts are efficient in quality, they are not adequate in quantity. There is a strong lack of funds, especially when it comes to medical students. Also medical students have to pay due attention to their studies, because of which they cannot concentrate on this side activity to the fullest. If the students fall behind, it becomes the role of NGOs basically to fill this gap which becomes impossible to fill. NGOs are also busy with the countless other issues that are prevailing in the society.
Therefore it is crucial to establish strong management which can cope with all matters and improve the sanitary conditions of the hospitals. The government should not interfere in the working of the hospital at all, except for granting funds. Power and authority should be entrusted to a board or cabinet instead in the hands of a single person. The managing authority should be wise, sincere, faithful, hardworking and determined. They should make sure that the budget of hospitals is spent in the best way for the progress and prosperity of the hospital and patients. Rules should be set and followed strictly. The management should also be strict on the negligent workers of the hospital who ignore their duties, and measures should be taken to dismiss them if they do not follow the protocol. There should be a check and balance system to make sure that no one is abusing his/her powers. Corruption should be minimized to the best possible limit.
It is hoped that with all these rules, strong determination and hard work on behalf of the hospital staff, medical students and community alike, and competent management, we will overcome all the obstacles in our way and our government hospitals will also stand out as exemplary healthcare institutes for all.
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