Hazards of second-hand medical equipment
THIS is with reference to Mehtab S. Karim’s article ‘Health sector reforms’ (Aug 4). I agree with the writer’s opinion and would also like to add that among various reasons for degeneration of the health sector in Pakistan one of them is the permission by the government/FBR to import second-hand/refurbished medical equipment.
According to my knowledge, earlier only those Pakistani professionals could import the second-hand medical equipment who were transferring back to Pakistan after their tenure abroad. But now anyone can officially import second-hand medical equipment. That is why there is a mushroom growth of diagnostic centres all over the country with equipment sometimes even 15 to 20 years old which cannot produce the same diagnostic result a brand new equipment could display. This may surely result in erratic diagnosis ultimately playing with lives of patients.
Interestingly, except for a few private sector hospitals/clinics, many well-known medical centres, clinics and hospitals in Pakistan are using second-hand/refurbished medical machinery. But they charge a hefty amount from patients.
Just to give you an example, a second-hand PM (permanent magnet) type MRI has a certain deterioration rate of its magnet per year. An old PM MRI can never show the same result compared to the new one.
So the diagnosis report given to patients may not be very accurate or reliable. We get the clinical and medical knowledge from the western world which is advancing day by day. The old technology is not at par with the latest one, thus pushing our country further back.
I know that the new equipment costs heavily. But the government can help the people by removing the import duty, sales tax and other taxes on the new equipment, giving a cushion to the genuine buyers of the equipment and should totally ban the import of old medical equipment so that it is not misused by greedy people whose only intention is to fleece the poor and innocent.