History of healthcare
services for mentally ill patients in Pakistan can be viewed
as before and after the Partition (1947) for convenience.
Treatment for psychiatric patients by a medical doctor started
with the arrival of Dr Honigberger. He belonged to Hungary
and worked as state physician to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in
1812. His services were initially limited to families and
close relatives of notables. After the death of Maharaja
Ranjit Singh, Dr Honigberger was appointed in charge of
the gunpowder factory and was also asked to treat general
patients at the city’s General Hospital, then called
Al-Shifa, located outside the Delhi Gate. Dr Honigberger
set up a ward for psychiatric patients in this hospital.
So the foundation was laid for future psychiatric services
in this region. It was no less than an honour for the city
of Lahore. It was named Central Lunatic Asylum, as written
in the book ‘Thirty Five years in the East’
written by Dr Honigberger.
Later when the British
took over Punjab Dr Honigberger transferred his 12 patients
to Dr Smith, the district civil surgeon in Lahore. In 1854,
Mr Robert Montgomery, the judicial commissioner of Punjab,
floated the idea of building a mental hospital at the site
where it stands today, but this could not be materialised
for certain reasons. Those patients were kept on shifting
at various places till 1900 due to various reasons. Till
the new mental hospital was established at the present place
the patients were given under the supervision of Col. Dr
Ewen, a psychiatrist who was appointed as the first medical
superintendent. This gentleman headed the hospital till
his death in 1914. The hospital remained without a psychiatrist
till 1922. Dr Lodge Patch took over as in charge of the
hospital. Dr Patch, a psychiatrist worked hard to improve
the prevailing conditions and added also new buildings.
As a result, the number of patients increased to about 1400.
A distinguished psychiatrist of his time, Dr Kraeplin, had
also wished to come over here to complete his research during
In 1947, at the time of
independence the nation inherited three mental hospitals,
one each at Lahore, Hyderabad and Peshawar. There were no
qualified psychiatrists to take care of them. The first
psychiatrist in a civil setup like that was Dr M. A. A.
Aziz who single-handedly served people for years. The late
‘60s and ‘70s saw expansion of psychiatric health
services throughout Pakistan and a new mental hospital was
established in Dudyal.
The only facility for psychiatric
patients in this part of world starting in 1900, turned
into Government Mental Hospital and was renamed “
Government Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases” in 1996.
The old governing law for these patients “Lunacy Act
of 1912” was replaced by “Mental Health Ordinance”
in 2001. The hospital was converted to “ Punjab Institute
of Mental Health, Lahore” in 2002. Number of staff
was increased and new facilities were added to improve services.