Special Reports

Frontier Corps Balochistan (North)’s Contributions Towards Provincial Healthcare

“Health is wealth” is a beautiful maxim whose real quintessence can be understood by those who are deprived of this great blessing. Pakistan’s health sector is one of the weakest health sectors of world. As per Global Health Security (GHS) Index 2021, Pakistan ranks at 130th position out of 195 countries in the world. In Pakistan, the current state of Balochistan’s health sector is also disappointing. In Balochistan, doctors to population ratio is 1:2000, whereas nurses to population ratio is 3:20000 according to the Health Monitoring Report-2021 by National Health Services Ministry. Numerous measures are being carried out for the provision of better health facilities to the masses of Balochistan by the incumbent provincial government. However, the time required for the completion of these projects has created a vacuum in the provision of immediately required health services, and thus are being fulfilled by Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan (North) due to its well dispersed deployment in various areas of the province.
FC Balochistan (North)’s area of responsibility comprises 21 districts out of 34 districts of Balochistan. Although, this area is 30% of Balochistan’s total land area, it is more densely populated with a population of 7.83 million which is 63% of Balochistan’s total population. Apart from securing borders and maintaining law and order situation in Balochistan, FC Balochistan (North) is rendering health services for the people of Balochistan. Healthcare services start from the checking of patients in basic Wing Medical Inspection (MI) rooms till their treatment in Combined Military Hospitals (CMHs)/Frontier Corps Hospital (FCH) or specialized Armed Forces Institutes (AFIs) depending upon the seriousness of illness. The aim is to cure the disease till the last moment with the utmost efforts to save a human life.
FC Balochistan (North) also remained forthcoming in assisting the civil government and health department of Balochistan in the execution of vaccination drives of COVID-19, Polio, Measles, Rubella, and establishment of Malaria centres. Whether there are disasters or natural calamities or enabling different tiers of health, like Basic Health Units (BHUs), Rural Health Centres (RHCs) and District Headquarter Hospitals (DHQs) in different cities, FC Balochistan (North)’s main purpose remains to serve the humanity irrespective of caste, sect and religion. Currently the medical strength of FC Balochistan (North) comprises around 18 Medical Officers (MOs), 1165 male Nursing Assistants and 39 female Nursing Assistants apart from FC Hospital’s (FCH) medical staff. Primarily, they are assigned the responsibility of healthcare of FC Balochistan (North) where approximately a strength of 50,000 is deployed at the forward posts, Wing and Corps Headquarters. The major contributions in the provision of health services by FC Balochistan (North) are enunciated in the succeeding paragraphs.
Wing Medical Inspection (MI) Rooms. Currently, 61 Medical Inspection (MI) rooms are functional in different wing headquarters located at different places. Majority of these MI rooms are manned by Nursing Assistants and at some places by Medical Officers (MOs). Nursing Assistants are trained enough to prescribe medicines to patients for normal diseases. These MI rooms provide services round the clock. Approximately, more than 100,000 civilian patients have been diagnosed in these MI rooms from January 2021 till mid-April 2022. Any patient deemed necessary by Nursing Assistant thereof to be reviewed by a doctor or with severe disease is referred to Corps MI Room/Corps Field Hospital.
Establishment of Free Medical Camps. Free medical camps are the biggest source of relief for people residing in the far-flung areas of Balochistan. These medical camps are established in areas where MI Rooms or any other health set up is not available. An adequate appreciation along with advance intimation about the establishment of these camps is carried out with two main purposes: firstly, provision of free medical facilities at the doorstep for local residents; and secondly, maximum people be informed to get benefit from these free camps. In these camps, free medical checkup by doctors, free medicines and at places mobile laboratories are moved with all lab tests without any cost. Keeping in view the customs of these areas, female Nursing Assistants form a permanent part of every medical camp to check the local female patients. From January 2021 till mid-April 2022, 121 free medical camps were established in different areas of Balochistan in which approximately 49,682 patients including 21,508 males, 13,697 females and 14,477 children were checked and free medicines worth millions of rupees were provided along with free laboratory tests. Patients whose diseases are not curable in medical camps or require advanced treatment are referred to Corps MI Rooms/Corps Field Hospitals for further disposal.
Free Eye Medical Camps. Presently, eye care facilities are available in major cities like Quetta and Sibi in Balochistan. People suffering from eye diseases from areas like Barkhan, Kohlu, and Kahan had to travel for hours to the main cities of Balochistan for their eye treatment. On the instructions of IG, FC Balochistan (North) started establishing free eye medical and surgical camps in those areas where no eye care facility was available. FC Balochistan (North) assumed frontline presence while establishing free eye camps in collaboration with trusts like Saylani Welfare Trust Karachi, LRBT Eye hospital Sibi, Akuwat Foundation, OGDCL and Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital. These eye camps were established with all out treatment facilities starting from the initial checkup by eye specialists with special eye equipment, and provision of glasses and patients requiring eye surgeries, were also performed on spot. So far 11 free eye camps have been established in Sui, Kahan, Zhob, Baidini, Qamar Din Kurez, Kohlu and Barkhan from October 2021 till mid-April 2022. Approximately 8209 patients including 4586 males, 2423 females and 1200 children have been treated. On spot, 897 eye surgeries/Ophthalmology procedures were performed along with the provision of 1698 free eye glasses. These free eye camps proved a great relief for the people of Balochistan.
Corps Headquarters MI Rooms & Field Hospitals. Patients referred by Wing MI rooms and free medical camps are treated in Corps MI rooms. In Corps MI Rooms, facility of all baseline investigations is available, which helps in diagnosing and treating the cases properly. At some places, Corps MI rooms are upgraded to the level of a full-fledged Field Hospital with all facilities of radiological X-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests, emergency and daily outpatient department (OPD) medicines. Patients requiring advanced treatment or with severe diseases are referred to FC hospital (FCH) by Corps MI Rooms for further treatment.
Medical Facilities during Natural Disasters. Unfortunately, Balochistan has faced numerous natural calamities like floods, droughts and earthquakes. It has always remained the hallmark of FC Balochistan (North) to actively take part in disaster relief operations in any calamity hit areas as first responders. Doctors and paramedical staff of FC Balochistan (North) have also kept this tradition of assisting people during natural disasters through the provision of immediate medical facilities. Recently, after an earthquake in District Harnai, massive evacuations along with the provision of first aid to critically injured victims were carried out by medical troops of FC Balochistan (North). It included treatment of 6268 patients by establishing 19 free medical camps. 5 patients who were critically injured are still under treatment in FC Hospital (FCH) and numerous patients have been discharged after successful treatment.
IED-hit Civilians Treatment. Unfortunately, 171 innocent civilians fell prey to Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs)/cracker attacks by miscreants from 2021 to date in northern Balochistan. Primarily, the main target of these IEDs/cracker attacks were security forces. 43 innocent civilians embraced martyrdom, while 128 were injured. FC Balochistan (North) troops evacuated the injured and provided first aid. In total, 119 injured victims have been treated at FC hospital/CMH Quetta and 9 patients are still under review in FC Hospital.
Enabling BHUs/RHCs & DHQs. FC’s contributions in uplifting and enabling local BHUs (Basic Health Units), RHCs (Rural Health Centers) and DHQs (District Headquarters Hospitals) are marvelous. It also includes services for the training of medical staff and efforts in coordination with civil administration to make absent doctors and medical staff available in these health setups. The aim is to enable all these tiers of health so that maximum utilization is made of these facilities. It is worth mentioning here that in District Kohlu, being amongst the most backward areas of Balochistan, the standard medical facilities are only limited to DHQs and BHUs. There is not a single Burn Unit in the complete area. Last year, 30 children suffered severe burn injuries due to a gas cylinder blast. These children could not survive due to the lack of immediate burn care in DHQ Kohlu. Burn injuries account for more than half of the hospital emergencies owing to occasional IED blasts and local domestic burns, for which many require hospitalization and reference to specialized burn centers on an immediate basis. Henceforth, there was a dire need of early establishment of a Burn Unit in Kohlu. A case for the construction of a Burn Unit in Kohlu on FC Balochistan (North)’s foundation land in cooperation with OGDCL is under process. So far more than 150 BHUs/RHCs and DHQs have been uplifted, renovated and provided expensive medical equipment in different areas of Balochistan by FC Balochistan (North). 
COVID-19 Pandemic. On the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Balochistan had neither the necessary infrastructure nor enough medical staff to deal with the pandemic. FC Balochistan (North) ensured COVID-19 SOPs in coordination with civil administration in its area of responsibility. On November 25, 2021, a massive vaccination drive of COVID-19 was initiated in 16 districts falling under FC Balochistan (North)’s area of responsibility in support of the Government of Balochistan. Before November 25, 2021 the state of vaccinated population was 828,067 individuals (21.7%) in these districts. FC Balochistan (North) kicked off a vast vaccination drive in which vaccination points at different entry/exit points of the districts were established. It also included door to door vaccination campaign in which lady nurses’ role of FC Balochistan (North) remained very significant. Till March 31, 2022, the vaccinated population increased to 2,413,003 individuals (63%), a 41.3% rise in just 4 months and 5 days. Among the top 15 districts declared best in the vaccination of COVID-19 in Pakistan by NCOC, 3 districts (Harnai, Mastung and Chaman) fall in FC Balochistan (North)’s area of responsibility. This huge target of vaccination was achieved by acting on a devised policy and ensuring vaccination by forming teams in each district.
Support to Vaccination Drives of Polio, Rubella and Measles. Security threat to vaccination teams during vaccination campaigns of Polio, Rubella and Measles was a major challenge. FC Balochistan (North) provided security to vaccination teams in its area of responsibility during vaccination drives. The security duty was executed well with zero incident.
FC Hospital (FCH). The hospital is located in Quetta and is primarily responsible for the provision of tertiary healthcare to the troops of Frontier Corps of Balochistan (North and South), their families, retired FC Balochistan troops, and the families of shuhada. It has a workload of more than 500,000 patients. All patients referred by Corps MI Rooms or Field Hospitals are treated here. The services rendered by FCH for civilian population are as under:
SOS Village Quetta. SOS children village provides alternative families to children without adequate parental care. FCH is providing free medical treatment both indoor/outdoor to 131 children and 10 mothers of SOS village Quetta.
Participation in Free Medical & Eye Camps. FCH despite being stretched due to its workload of patients, limited doctors and medical staff’s availability, always contributed actively in the divine purpose of establishing free medical and eye camps for the people of Balochistan.
Earthquake Harnai. A rescue team comprising 1 Medical Officer (MO), 6 paramedical staff, and 3 ambulances contributed to the medical rescue mission and around 2084 patients were treated in three days after the earthquake hit Harnai District. 5 critical patients were referred to FCH. These patients were provided major surgical care including spinal surgery at FCH and they are still under review in FCH.
 IED Incidents Injured. In total 119 IED-hit patients have been treated at FC Hospital/CMH Quetta and 9 patients are still under review in FC Hospital.
Emergency Care of Local Population. From 2019-2022, about 74 road traffic accident (RTA) cases and 9 gunshot wound (GSW) cases have been received in trauma and emergency center FCH. They were given emergency lifesaving services free of cost.
Umeed School Quetta Cantt. FCH provided free ENT services including Brainstem Evoked Response Audiometry (BERA) test to 17 special children of Umeed School Quetta on humanitarian grounds to improve the life standards of specially-abled children.
Bibi Sadiqa, who is 8 years old, belongs to Qilla Saifullah District of Balochistan. She has a disease of Congenital Facial Deformity. Her two other sisters and a brother are also deaf/dumb. Treatment for her disease was possible in CMH Rawalpindi. IG FC Blochistan (North) sanctioned financial assistance for her treatment as a special case. She is still under treatment in CMH Rawalpindi.
Health is a right given to every citizen by the Constitution of Pakistan. FC Balochistan (North) is striving hard to provide healthcare services to the people of Balochistan with all of its available resources. IG FC Balochistan (North)’s instructions to all command echelons are to work for social well-being of locals with their utmost efforts. The people of Balochistan acknowledge the health contributions being rendered by FC Balochistan (North) and always welcomed these great gestures.



 

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