SHC orders public and private hospitals to reopen emergency wards, OPDs immediately

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court directed all public and private hospitals across the province to reopen emergency wards and outpatient departments (OPDs) immediately. 

The high court was hearing a petition against the non-provision of treatment to general patients at public and private hospitals in light of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Angered at hospitals’ administrations, the SHC said that action will be taken against those health facilities where patients are not provided treatment. 

“We should know how patients are being treated at emergency wards and OPDs [in hospitals],” said Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar. “Is it necessary to take coronavirus tests of patients who are suffering from other diseases?”

Justice Mazhar said that the poor sought treatment at public hospitals. He wondered how things would function if hospitals’ administrations did not correct their ways. 

The petitioner’s lawyer cited the example of a police officer who died from the coronavirus as he could not get treated. He said that OPDs were functioning as per routine in private hospitals. 

“If the poor are not treated at government hospitals than this is unacceptable,” said Justice Mazhar. 

The lawyer informed the court that patients who came to hospitals for treatment of other illnesses were asked to have themselves tested for coronavirus. 

“Patients suffering from heart attacks are dying due to delays in the coronavirus [test] reports,” said the lawyer. 

The high court directed all parties to the case to submit a report by May 19. 

The SHC had issued notices to the national health services, provincial health secretary, three major government hospitals and five private hospitals to appear before the court over the matter. 

The Sindh government had ordered OPDs of major hospitals across the province to remain closed in March after the coronavirus cases in the country had increased to a little over 200. 

A petition had been filed at the SHC by two lawyers who said that first aid or any other kind of treatment to general patients was not being offered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Asim Iqbal and Nadeem Shaikh, the petitioners, said that instead of patients being provided medical treatment for various diseases and accidents, they were asked to provide coronavirus test results. 

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