Balochistan’s Health Epidemic

“Good health is considered a blessing. If you are healthy, without any health issues, you are the richest person on Earth. Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan and the richest in nature, is also the most rural and neglected province when it comes to providing basic health facilities.B

Balochistan is currently facing a range of unavoidable issues. Among them, the health epidemic is a significant problem that is completely ignored and overshadowed by the authorities. The government’s reluctance to address this issue is causing increasing concern. Last year’s catastrophic floods completely reshaped the province, cutting off connections between various areas and districts for weeks. Mobile signals and data were inaccessible for more than eight days. While the loss of connections was not the major concern, the aftermath of the floods left thousands homeless and deprived of basic healthcare, plagued by disaster.

Health issues became a major source of distress for the people. The floods introduced various new viruses and diseases, which continued to spread from one person to another. People of all ages, including children, young boys, and the elderly, were affected by these post-flood viruses. Many women gave birth during these challenging times, and unfortunately, many did not survive the calamity.

During the floods, Balochistan reported the highest number of health cases. In addition to the emergence of new viruses, the actual number of affected individuals was staggering. Flood-affected patients are still receiving treatment in various hospitals in Quetta. The government’s vulnerable and impractical policies during the flood were one of the main causes of this situation. If the government had implemented strong and effective policies, considering the potential outcome of such a calamity, the infrastructure and health damage would not have been as severe. The issue of infrastructure is another prolonged and alarming problem that can be discussed on another day.

Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan, barely has a well-equipped government hospital with experienced doctors. The Civil Hospital, the only government hospital in the city, is currently in its worst state. Apart from the lack of facilities and experienced doctors, the treatment wards and toilets are in deplorable conditions, and the overall environment is chaotic. Consequently, people from Balochistan/Quetta prefer to seek treatment in Karachi even for minor illnesses. Private hospitals in Balochistan are mainly occupied by Afghan citizens who travel all the way from Afghanistan, and they are treated poorly and charged exorbitant fees due to their limited alternatives. Many of them cannot afford to go to Karachi or even Quetta.

Instead of attending to patients in government hospitals where they are supposed to provide free or low-cost services as mandated by the government, doctors prefer to sit in their own clinics during duty hours and charge patients arbitrarily. This issue does not end here. The worrisome aspect is that the government, despite being aware of what is happening in private hospitals, remains completely stubborn and indifferent, showing no interest in taking action.

Government ignorance resembles autoimmunity in medical terms, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues. The government’s lack of initiative in building a robust healthcare system will inevitably impact the middle and poor classes of the province, who cannot afford treatment in Karachi or Lahore. However, the repercussions of this negligence will ultimately be faced by the government and the authorities themselves. It is a shame for the government that patients have to spend millions of rupees in other cities due to the lack of adequate hospitals and facilities in their own city.

To address this issue, the government should build hospitals in the city, ensuring that even rural areas have access to healthcare facilities so that people don’t have to travel long distances for treatment. It is crucial to ensure the availability of proper facilities in government hospitals. Health authorities need to take action against doctors and hospital staff who mistreat patients, conducting regular checks on doctors’ availability, timings, and most importantly, their experience and capability to provide appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of the countries where thousands of patients have lost their lives due to the incompetence and inexperience of doctors. Balochistan is among the provinces with a high number of patient deaths caused by doctors’ recklessness.

The government should establish a pivotal policy to address the health epidemic. If not, the trend of people preferring Karachi over Quetta for treatment will continue, which would be a significant loss for the government itself. Moreover, the government should ensure that proper facilities are provided to doctors. People’s lives depend on them, and they should be treated with respect and supported by society and the government.

To combat the growing health epidemic, both the government and doctors need to come to a consensus and work together for the well-being of the people. They should prioritize the implementation of solid policies to build well-equipped government hospitals with comprehensive facilities. This unified agenda will be crucial in controlling the health epidemic.

Wakeel Ahmed is a student of journalism.