Editorial: Permanent Solutions Required for Trauma Center

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On 8th of August a devastating suicide blast claimed the lives of 75 people and over 50 of them were lawyers. This act of terrorism was dubbed as 9/11 of Quetta and rightly so because there were condolence gatherings in every nook and corner of the city, next morning.
Suicide blast took place outside the casualty ward of Sandeman Provincial Hospital (SPH) and according to the claims of the surviving lawyers, no medical treatment was provided to the critically injured victims for two hours. They also claim that most of the lawyers died due to loss of excessive blood and that could have been averted if they were provided emergency medical aid in SPH.

A mafia of doctors in collusion with owners of private hospitals lobbied to prevent Trauma center from becoming functional

Massive scale of human loss caused in this blast and the reported negligence of the SPH management put a lot of pressure on PML-N led provincial government. They were compelled to announce the opening of the Trauma center in SPH.
Read also: Quetta Carnage: An Analysis of Causes and Consequence
The first Trauma center of the province was completed inside the premise of SPH in October 2015 at a cost of 132 million. Since then the building of the Trauma center had been lying vacant and no effort was made to make it functional. A mafia of doctors in collusion with owners of private hospitals lobbied to prevent Trauma center from becoming functional. Health department of the province also did not take any interest in the matter and that’s why Trauma center remained non-functional.
Under pressure from different quarters, a meeting was convened, with Chief Minister on Chair, about the Trauma center. It was decided in the meeting to expedite the process of opening of Trauma center and make it functional on temporary basis from September and on permanent basis after couple of months.

Opening of Trauma center next month would be just a photo session where the inauguration plaque would be unveiled

Although it’s a good decision but the problem with it is that government is using an ad-hoc approach to opening Trauma center which can’t be a permanent solution and would only serve the purpose of deflecting the current pressure on government.
Problems with ad-hoc approach of the government vis-à-vis Trauma center are that there is no budgetary allocation for day to day expenses of the center. Government has announced to release Rs. 450 million for procurement of equipment and it would also announce a grant for daily expenditures for short period but again the Trauma center would be in financial crunch once the grant is consumed.
Secondly, according to sources in provincial government the task of making Trauma center functional has been assigned to Planning and Development (P&D) department and the Commissioner Office Quetta and the Health department have been bypassed. This is again a flawed decision because without the full support and active contribution of Health department Trauma center can never be a sustainable project.
Moreover, Trauma center can only be fully operational when 138 vacancies allocated for it are filled. This process would take a lot of time because these vacancies involve the positions of highly skilled and technical staff. It’s also possible that some of these vacancies go vacant due to lack of availability of qualified staff required. So, this factor will also delay the effective opening of the Trauma center.
Therefore, it’s most likely that expected opening of Trauma center next month would be just a photo session where the inauguration plaque would be unveiled and then there would be the customary prayer and that’s it. That’s not going to solve any problem and therefore provincial government should avoid such exercises.
What needs to be done is to take steps to make the Trauma center sustainable and workable in the long term. This can be done by avoiding the ad-hoc approach and all the aforementioned points need to be taken into account as well.

People responsible for delaying opening of Trauma center have committed a crime against humanity and need to be identified and brought to justice

That’s not enough; an inquiry should also be carried out against those responsible for delaying the opening of Trauma center in Quetta. Those people have committed a crime against humanity and need to be identified and brought to justice. In fact, it should be added in the terms of reference of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which is investigating the Quetta blast to identify those who are responsible for negligence in providing emergency medical aid to victims in SPH and other hospitals.
If Trauma center is not made functional properly and emergency healthcare system is not overhauled then citizens of Quetta need to brace themselves for loss of their loved ones, due to lack of emergency medical care, again when terrorists strike in future.
Editor
Balochistan Voices
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