By HASAN MANSOOR
KARACHI: The health ministry acquired seven mobile units equipped with mammography machines to diagnose and treat breast cancer in the 25 districts where no such facility is available, the Sindh Assembly was informed on Wednesday.
There are five mammography machines in Karachi and one in Hyderabad, while one of the seven mobile units is available in Jamshoro district, according to Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro.
The minister was responding to identical questions asked by Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Naila Munir and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional legislator Nusrat Saher Abbasi during the Question House in the provincial assembly.
Dr Mandhro said there were six mammography machines at various hospitals in the entire province. He explained that two of them were available at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), and one each in Civil Hospital Karachi, Sindh Government Lyari General Hospital, Sindh Government Hospital, Liaquatabad, and Liaquat University Hospital, Hyderabad. As one lawmaker commented: “It is good to see that such a facility is available adequately in Karachi, but it would be better to offer the same to other districts of Sindh as well.”
However the minister, who gave his answer in writing, could mention only one such unit being used in Jamshoro district. “These units,” added Dr Mandhro, “would trace the malignant tissue, and suck it out before it spreads the cancer.”
In reply to the question by Heer Soho about reports that medicines worth millions of rupees had expired in Thatta district, the minister said the question was not based on facts.
Besides, the house was told that there were 1,155 health centres being run under the People’s Primary Health Initiative in 21 districts. These health facilities had a total of 11,614 staffers, which included 4,108 paramedics, 4,929 auxiliary staff, 476 female medical officers and 942 male medical officers, including four medical superintendents, the minister said.
In reply to another question by Ms Abbasi, Dr Mandhro said out of nine medico-legal centres established by his ministry, four centres were ‘perfectly functioning’ round-the-clock with proper facility for autopsy, rape cases, medico-legal examination and the issuance of medico-legal certificates to injured persons. The four centres are situated in the CHK, JPMC, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, and Sindh Government Qatar Hospital, Orangi Town, he added.
At the other five centres, he said, medico-legal examination was being carried out and certificates were being issued. But post-mortem examination was not being conducted there in the absence of mortuaries at the Sindh Government hospitals in New Karachi, Saudabad, Korangi-5 and Liaquatabad and the Lyari General Hospital.
The house was informed that 38 of the 71 sanctioned staff were working at the medico-legal centres, which included the single post of BPS-20 police surgeon in Karachi. In reply to yet another question by Ms Soho, Dr Mandhro said there were 3,942 HIV cases, with 69 full-blown AIDS patients, in Karachi. Besides, 56 HIV cases were reported in Larkana with three full-blown AIDS patients, while Dadu had 17 HIV and two AIDS cases. Mirpurkhas had 11 HIV cases and one case of AIDS. There were 42 centres screening people for the lethal disease, he said.
MQM lawmaker Naila Munir asked about the number of deaths of children who had been suffering from measles in Hyderabad during 2014. The house was informed that 34 children suffered from measles in the year with not a single death reported in Hyderabad.
In reply to a question about number of psychiatric hospitals across the province, the minister said Sindh had only one such hospital namely Sir C.J. Institute of Psychiatry, which was situated in Hyderabad district, while there were psychiatry wards being run by several hospitals elsewhere in the province.
About procurement of medicines, the minister said the government had implemented a central rate contract system through which all district health officers or officials in charge of the healthcare facilities and health institutions had been allowed to purchase medicines, including anti-rabies vaccine for dog bite and anti-snake venom [ASV for snake bite], without intimation and prior permission of superior office. But, he added, they were bound to follow a certain procedure for the purchase of medicines and vaccines.