Health centre without doctor for 18 months

INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE, JULY 30, 2006
Bhopal, July 30 (IANS) For 18 long months, a primary health centre in Madhya Pradesh has been without a doctor, putting the poor, particularly the pregnant, in great distress.
Munni, nine months into her pregnancy, came to the centre at Kushwai village in Shadol district, only to be told that a compounder was running it.
For someone in an advanced stage of pregnancy like Munni, the absence of a doctor may be life threatening.
Groaning in pain, Munni, who travelled six kilometres by bus and walked more than a kilometre over rough roads to reach the centre, starts for another centre eight kilometres away.
‘For a woman in labour, in remote Madhya Pradesh, it is common to travel in worn-out buses, bullock carts or even cycles over potholed roads to distant rural health centres in the hope of getting proper health care,’ one health official said.
Ironically, this happens at a time when the state government boasts of providing transport, treatment and cash incentives to women delivering child at a government facility.
Still, 10,000 women die every year during pregnancy.
The reasons for these deaths are not far to seek – lack of awareness about government schemes and their tardy implementation.
Often pregnant woman like Munni walk to the health centres or at times get carried to distances as far as 20-22 km away.
The government has in the recent past announced several schemes to prevent child and maternity related deaths.
‘But the reach and awareness about major health schemes is pathetic, with only a handful of people benefitting from them,’ revealed a recent survey conducted by an NGO centre for advocacy in five districts.
‘More than 50 percent people do not know about the major health schemes, as high as 43.9 percent do not have the `yellow card’ meant for Below Poverty Line (BPL) people, 61.7 percent people do not have access to a government health facility and 71.6 percent people never received free medicines,’ said the survey, conducted in both urban and rural areas of Bhopal, Raisen, Hoshangabad, Katni and Jabalpur districts.
‘Let alone reach, even awareness about the schemes is so low that it seems improbable that economically backward residents will be able to seek benefit of most elfare schemes in near future,’ said the NGO, which covered 1,000 respondents belonging to economically poor strata to ascertain their awareness, reach and availability of the health schemes.
‘Besides, most primary health centres do not function; the MMUs (Mobile Medical Unit) are not in place,’ the study found.
It also cited poor infrastructure, lack of labour rooms and medical equipment, large-scale absenteeism and vacancies as well as poorly trained and unmotivated manpower as some of the other reasons for the poor health care services.
According to a health official, the scenario reflects the lopsided nature of health care in Madhya Pradesh.

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