“Vaccines are not yet available to every citizen and the virus mutation raises concerns”
The outbreak of COVID-19 caught the entire world incognizant including the developed nations with better healthcare facilities. Critical supply shortages and need for ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPEs) have been witnessed observed worldwide. The pandemic has affected Pakistan too, a home to over 220 million people. Being a developing nation with health infrastructure that offer just six hospital beds per 10,000 patients, doctors feared that the healthcare system was on the brink of collapsing in the first months of 2020.
When the hospitals within Pakistan were experiencing shortage of PPEs, space and other necessary medical care facilities to cope with this pandemic, the University of Lahore (UOL) stepped forward to play a vital role in the nation’s health sector. Its Teaching Hospital (ULTH) was one of the few private medical institutions which established treatment centers for COVID-19 diagnosis, isolation and treatment facilities.
“Within Lahore, we were among the pioneer private institutions to establish COVID-19 Diagnostic and Treatment Center. This center is recognized by the Health Care Commission, Punjab and is also attached to the National Dashboard for patient data uploading”, Prof. Dr. Shahid Mahmud Malik, (Pro-Rector Health Sciences, UOL), a Cardiothoracic Surgeon revealed in an exclusive interview with The Spectacle recently.
According to Dr. Malik, the Center had performed 7,151 RT-PCR diagnostic tests and provided all mandatory facilities like regular counseling, meals, medicine and consumables and recreation to all the admitted patients. “We are employing a total of 79 consultants, medical officers, and registrars plus 75 staff nurses at this Center”, he added.
Despite the reluctance of the public regarding COVID-19, the Pro- Rector believes that adherence to the SOPs must be emphasized at all levels. “Some people had started to think that Coronavirus had come to an end. However, it is not the case. The Virus is still with us. We should therefore, continue wearing face masks, frequently wash our hands, sanitize our rooms and maintain social distancing in crowds”, he further advised.
“I suspect a third wave of COVID-19 in Pakistan. Many people are still taking the virus lightly. They are largely becoming more complacent and bringing their guard down. It is the reason as to why we are seeing again many patients in COVID-19 ICU. The vaccination which would be looked at as a solution is not yet available to every citizen and the mutation of the virus raises concerns to researchers and policy makers”, he said.
Underlines health care facilities, advices students
He also revealed that the health sciences at The University of Lahore continue to expand both in the academics and health care facilities. “We are putting up a new block to house, more operation theatres; upgrading Radiology Department with more modern equipment and adding more teaching bays for medical students. We are providing 100% house jobs assurance for medical graduates, ensuring continual expansion and replacement of hospital equipment and setting up a separate multistoried building for the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences”, he added.
Dr. Malik further revealed that in order to cater for children with heart defects in the country, the UOL is in collaboration with the Pakistan Children’s Heart Foundation (PCHF) to put up the nation’s first Children Heart Hospital within the University vicinity. “Our collaboration with PCHF since 2017 has realized hundreds of pediatric heart surgeries at ULTH”, he said.
He calls upon the students to excel academically, secure high grades and acquire practical skills that will make them standout of the tens of thousands who graduate annually. He also told students to be morally upright and always consult their teachers for guidance.