The oldest cancer ward of the country located in Lahore’s Mayo Hospital is facing acute shortage of specialised doctors and basic facilities, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Built in 1940, the Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy has trained leading oncologists in the past, but now it itself is being neglected by the higher authorities as several seats in the department have not been filled for a long time, according to officials of the ward.
A doctor working in the ward told Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity that the oncology department did not have a professor, nor did it have an associate professor, while the four seats of senior registrars were also lying vacant.
He said that according to the protocol, there were two seats of assistant professors in the ward, but only one assistant professor was working at present. “Besides, there must be 16 medical officers (MOs) in the ward, against the present strength of four,” he added.
“It is shameful that all the distinguished oncologists of the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Oncology Lahore (INMOL) were trained at Mayo Hospital’s Oncology Ward, but now this ward is lagging behind in imparting quality treatment because of the lack of facilities,” another doctor remarked. He pointed out that the department was facing shortage of basic facilities and latest machines.
According to him, the location of tumor among cancer patients is being marked manually at the ward which may prove to be detrimental and lead to a death. It may be mentioned that the treatment of cancer is a sensitive matter and a slight neglect while marking the tumor manually using radiations may result in a casualty.
Moreover, a modern machine installed in the ward at a cost of Rs 5 million is lying non-functional as no one knows how to operate it, relegating its use to a table to put files on.
There are 74 beds in the oncology ward and they are all occupied 24/7 which shows that the number of cancer patients is increasing alarmingly in the province. As the government seems unmoved to the plight of this ward, the dearth of senior doctors has also adversely impacted the training of post-graduate trainees.
When contacted Mayo Hospital Medical Superintendent (MS) and Director General (DG) Health Dr Amjad Shehzad said that there was a dearth of oncologists in the whole country. He said the government had been informed about this shortage and doctors would be hired through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) soon after receiving the government’s approval. He further said that it was an internal matter of the hospital and he was ready to sit with doctors of the ward to address their grievances regarding their training.