In Madhya Pradesh's Gandhwani, people await female doctors, health infrastructure; Opposition blames BJP for bias

Karishma | Dec 8, 2018 | 5 min read

Tribal MP awaits its female doctors, health infrastructure; opposition blames BJP for bias

Karishma S

Indore: Gandhwani, a Congress-ruled assembly constituency, is dominated by female voters.  However, the irony is such that Gandhwani has no female doctors, due to which women have to travel several kilometres to receive basic healthcare.

Gandhwani and Kukshi are two Congress-ruled constituencies in Dhar district, where remaining constituencies -- Dhar, Manawar, Badnawar, Sardarpur and Dharampuri -- have BJP legislators. These constituencies also have female doctors. The community health centre (CHC) in Kukshi has a lone female doctor, but due to lack of facilities, most patients have to be referred elsewhere.   

“Four blocks - Bagh, Dahi, Kukshi and Nisarpur - fall under Kukshi tehsil and I am the only female doctor here. I am on duty 24*7. I am also responsible for administrative work like going to court for hearings, making MLCs etc,” said Dr Rajkumari Devda, a gynaecologist posted at the Kukshi CHC.

According to Dr Devda, due to lack of basic facilities like sonography machines, or an ICU, locals suffering serious medical conditions are referred to Barwani district hospital, 30km from Kukshi. “Dhar is at least 100 km from Kukshi, so we refer the patients to Barwani district,” she said.

According to the Election Commission, there are over 1.1 lakh female voters in Gandhwani, constituting 49.8% of the total voters in the constituency.

Alleging step-motherly treatment towards their assembly seat by the state government, the Congress leader from Gandhwani, Umang Singhar, claims that the situation is better in other constituencies where BJP is in power. He claims that the medical facilities for women in Manawar, an ST reserved constituency where BJP’s Ranjana Baghel is in power, is much better as compared to Gandhwani and Kukshi.  

Singhar says that he had announced Rs 1 lakh salary per month to any female doctor who would be willing to move to Gandhwani. He says that since he is from the opposition party, he has suffered injustice at the hands of the state government: “The state government had said that they were unable to send a female doctor because of dearth of female doctors in the state,” he said.

Women in this constituency deliberately delay approaching a doctor due to the tedious travels they would have to undertake. “We have to travel to Barwani, Indore or Dhar even if something minor happens. There is not a single female doctor here. Most of the women don’t go to the doctors as they don’t want to travel such long distance and this affects their health adversely. Only when the condition becomes very serious, they go to the other districts for treatment,” said Anita Devi, 55, who had to travel to Indore from Gandhwani when she suffered UTI infection a few months ago.

Bhanwari Bai, another resident of the area, claimed that pregnant women ensure that they organize travel arrangements in advance close to their delivery date.

“There is a dearth of female doctors in the entire district. Though we have at least one female doctor in Manawar and Kukshi, the one who was posted in Gandhwani resigned and left a year ago. After that, the post has remained vacant. We had sent a letter to the government asking for a doctor in Gandhwani and are hoping that it gets filled soon,” said R C Panika, Chief Medical Officer, Dhar. He added that female doctors are not interested in moving to remote areas like Gandhwani due to lack of facilities here. They prefer districts and towns as compared to tribal areas.  

Gynaecologist Dr Monika Chouhan who is posted in Manawar, claimed, “Because of the dearth of female doctors, we get burdened with cases from these areas. We get hundreds of referrals from Umarband, Gandhwani and Bakaner every day for which we have to work extra hours.”

This is primarily because female doctors prefer working in urban areas. Since Chouhan is from Manawar, it was not difficult for her to adjust there, but according to her the main reason why no female doctor is moving to Gandhwani is because it is located in an interior remote location.

The situation is similar in Congress-ruled Kukshi assembly constituency. There is only one female doctor here, but due to lack of advance health care facilities, patients have to be referred to other districts. Congress MLA from Kukshi, Surendra Singh Baghel, claimed that a few months before the 2013 assembly polls, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced the development of a civil hospital in Kukshi; however, the construction is still pending after five years. “As soon as I became MLA from this area in 2013, the development of the hospital was put on the back burner,” he said.

“The civil hospital building is almost ready but it will take time to start. We also don't have any MD here which is a big problem,” Dr Devda said.

Baghel claimed that only improving infrastructure in the area would not help the constituency, unless doctors are ready to work in such areas.

However, Dr Raj Barfa, BJP President in Dhar, claims that these are false allegations and that a female doctor has been working in Kukshi for several years.

“The community health center in Kukshi has been given the status of a civil hospital, which is in its completion stage. The civil hospital will have 90 beds and new-age machinery needed for treatment. Gandhwani doesn’t have a female doctor because she was transferred recently,” he said.

In Jhabua and Alirajpur districts as well, women constitute over 49 per cent of voters and issues concerned with the fairer sex are likely to emerge as one of the rallying points in upcoming polls. While districts have many pressing issues regarding health, hygiene and nutrition, safety of women and liquor ban are being discussed increasingly with polls drawing closer.

Table: Electorate ratio in two Cong-ruled ACs in Dhar district, MP










Umang Singhar





Surendra Singh Baghel

Source: Election Commission of India

(Author is a member of, a pan-India, network of grassroots reporters)

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