J Crit Care. 2020 Aug 21;60:273-278. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2020.08.017. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: To describe the extent and variation of critical care services in Pakistan.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in all intensive care units (ICUs) recognised for postgraduate training to determine administration, infrastructure, equipment, staffing, and training.
RESULTS: There were 151 hospitals recognised for training, providing 2166 ICU beds and 1473 ventilators. Regional distribution of ICU beds per 100,000 population ranged from 1.0 in Sindh to none in Gilgit Baltistan (median 0.7). A senior clinician trained in critical care was available in 19 (12.1%) of units. One-to-one nurse-to-bed ratio during the day was available in 84 (53.5%) of units, dropping to 75 (47.8%) at night. Availability of 1:1 nursing also varied between provinces, ranging from 56.5% in Punjab compared to 0% in Azad Jamu Kashmir. Similarly, there was disparity in the availability of ventilators between provinces. All ICUs had basic infrastructure (electricity, running water, piped oxygen) and basic equipment (electronic monitoring and infusion pumps).
CONCLUSION: Pakistan, a lower middle-income country, has an established network of critical care facilities with access to basic equipment, but inequalities in its distribution. Investment in critical care training for doctors and nurses is needed.