Amethi, Uttar Pradesh: Established in 2006, a Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh was supposed to provide healthcare services to about 25,000 people living in its vicinity. However, local residents claim that the apathy of the state government and healthcare officials has affected its running since it was established.
According to the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS), a PHC should be able to provide essential services and “Minimum Assured Services” to the local populace. The IPHS also underlines that a PHC should have 24-hour emergency service, four-six indoor beds for patients and notes that all the services should be provided primarily by the nursing staff, except emergencies, where a Medical Officer may be available to attend to it.
However, the PHC in Chanderiya village doesn’t have such facilities for the villagers. Villagers claim that the PHC is functional only once or twice or week for a few hours. In the absence of a proper healthcare facility, the villagers usually have to travel to the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Sangrampur, which is 12 kilometres away or the government hospital in Sultanpur which is 30 kilometres away.
A resident of the village Mohammad Haleem, 65, stated that his daughter-in-law passed away a few months ago from excessive bleeding during labour.
He stated that the PHC was shut when she went into labour, so they had to take her to Sangrampur, but by then, her condition was already critical, so they referred her to the hospital at Sultanpur, which is equipped to take on critical cases. However, she was bleeding a lot and she passed away on the way to the hospital, he added.
“If the PHC [at the village] were functional and had all the necessary facilities, we may not have lost her, as she would have been able to receive treatment,” he claimed.
The wife of Munawwar Hussain, 35, had a stillbirth in July 2019. He said that his wife had to travel to Sultanpur regularly and the stress from it added to “the tragedy.”
He claimed that if the PHC near his house had all the facilities, they could have avoided the stillbirth.
Quacks replace doctors
When the reporter tried visiting the PHC, it was closed during his first visit. However, in the second outing, it was found that only a ward boy, Hardev Vishwakarma, was present. He stated that though there’s a maternal care facility on the premises, it has been shut since the PHC was established.
Dilshad Khan, 70, a local social worker, claimed that almost 35% of patients in the area die of the absence of proper medical attention. “The deaths happen because private doctors in the village, who have no medical certificates, also known as Jhola Chapp, charge huge amounts of money and ask patients to continue taking medicines for at least three months. Even if it is a small wound or cough and fever,” he said.
A local barber, Jameel Khan, who earns just Rs 4,000-5,000 each month stated that since travelling to get medical treatment is not an option for him since the transport facilities are meagre and often expensive, so they have to visit the local doctors, who charge exorbitant amounts, or visit a quack.
Even Munawwar stated that only the rich people who own vehicles can travel to get medical attention, while the poor are left to suffer.
A public representative Aijaz Khan stated that they have been complaining about the PHC’s conditions for years, but it falls on deaf ears. He added that the authorities claim that there’s a shortage of staff, owing to which the PHC remains shut.
Dr Rajesh Mohan Srivastava, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Amethi, told 101Reporters that the PHC is closed owing to the coronavirus pandemic as the state’s medical staff have been roped in for COVID-19 duty. When told that this is not a current issue, he replied, “If it is closed then come to CHC Sangrampur (which is about 12 kilometres away).”
When the reporter visited the Sangrampur CHC, it was found that a watchman, who identified himself as Beephan, was dressing the wounds of an injured person. When confronted, he replied that though he is not a doctor, he is asked to do dressings and other minor medical procedures.
Dr Manoj Kumar Singh, the incharge of Sangrampur CHC, stated that there aren’t enough staff members at the CHC to look after patients, so they delegate the work among the staff they have.
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