Paediatric critical care limited in K-P – 27 Feb 2023

Of 34 districts, only four have hospitals with paediatric ICUs

The province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has over 34 districts, but only four of them have hospitals with paediatric surgical wards that have intensive care units (ICU) . This means that parents have to take their children to other provinces for treatment as no hospital in K-P has a full-fledged paediatric ICU.

The Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) is the only health facility in the province with six well-equipped beds, including three ICU beds for post-surgery care. However, due to the one-bed-one-patient policy implemented at LRH, the hospital administration has to refer children to Khyber-Teaching Hospital (KTH) after surgeries. This has caused overcrowding at KTH and a shortage of ICU beds.

The situation is difficult for both children and doctors, with children suffering from serious diseases having to wait for 10 days or more for surgery. The hospitals have to inform the ICUs formally before each surgery to ensure the availability of beds for patients.

The Qazi Hussain Ahmad Memorial Hospital in Nowshera has six ICU beds where patients from different wards, including gynecology, medical, and other wards, are admitted, and children under the age of 12 are also accommodated here.

The Saudi Teaching Hospital in Swat has four ICU beds allocated for paediatric surgery, with each bed accommodating two children and creating space for eight patients.

It is unfortunate that no other district in K-P, including the far-flung tribal districts, has a paediatric surgery facility, which means that patients from these districts have to be sent to nearby large hospitals where the facility is also not available.

Even at LRH, only 20 paediatric cardiology procedures are done each month, resulting in patients having to wait for months for their turn.

“Needless to say that children as well as doctors face difficulties almost on a daily basis. As a result children suffering from serious diseases like hernia and others have to wait for days on end for the surgical procedures,” said an official.

A high-ranking official at KTH acknowledged the difficulties regarding paediatric ICU and the problems it is causing. However, he mentioned that once the new ICU is fully established and launched, it would solve many problems, and beds would be allocated for paediatric surgery to some extent.

It is worth mentioning that despite the tall claims of the previous PTI provincial government, the health sector has not improved significantly. The tussle between the doctors and LRH administration has been a well-known fact for the past nine years.

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