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Chandigarh dispensaries in ICU

On the priority list of the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC), healthcare is lingering somewhere at the bottom. The 20 dispensaries run by the civic body stand testimony. Four dispensaries have no doctors, and many are operating from dilapidated buildings.

punjab Updated: Jul 16, 2012 01:26 IST
Hillary Victor

On the priority list of the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC), healthcare is lingering somewhere at the bottom. The 20 dispensaries run by the civic body stand testimony.

In medical terms, not only are these medical centres ailing, but relying on life support system in some cases. As per records, four dispensaries have no doctors, and many are operating from dilapidated buildings. The Sector-26 dispensary has no water supply for almost two years, the employees allege.

Call it lack of awareness, or sheer indifference, but the new MC elected seven months ago has not formed any sub-committee to deal with the functioning of the dispensaries. In fact, the situation has only gone from bad to worse since September 2010, when the UT administration transferred these 20 dispensaries to the MC.

Councillors feign ignorance about their powers when it comes to setting things right. The least they can do is prod the civic body to increases expenditure on primary health care. In 2011-12, an amount of Rs 16.62 crore was sanctioned in the annual budget of the MC for primary health, and more than 90% remained unutilised. The budget this time is Rs 23 crore, but not much has changed on the ground.

As per the official records, there are no doctors posted at the civil dispensaries in Sector 38, Hallomajra, Dadumajra and Sector 33. When doctors visit these dispensaries, it's on rotation basis - on alternate days.

This means that at least four dispensaries in the city go without a doctor everyday!

As per rules, each dispensary has to have an MBBS doctor and pharmacist each, who should be available from 8am to 2pm. The footfall, on an average, is 250 per day per dispensary. In a random survey conducted by the HT team, in some of the dispensaries, conditions were found utterly devoid of hygiene. There are no sweepers at dispensaries in Sector 9, 33 and 35, and no ward servant at Sector 40 and Maloya.

Last year, in September, medical officer (health) Dr BK Salwan wrote to the commissioner of the MC, seeking repair of all dispensaries that are crying for attention. Till date, nothing has been done even as the buildings remain in bad shape. In the six-page letter, the medical officer had also asked for repair of equipments and removal of congress grass, besides replacement of overhead tanks, water taps and whitewashing of the building at Maloya. A visit reveals nothing has changed.
"The building is in bad shape, and we have requested for repairs several times. We are waiting for a response," said Dr Surinder Kaur, posted at the dispensary in Maloya.

An employee of the Sector-26 dispensary said, "We are struggling for water supply for the past two years. We have to bring water from outside for cleaning and other use. Even the toilets are in a shambles. Because of the stink, we do not even open them."