Though the Punjab government has been making tall claims of providing better healthcare services to people in all parts of the state, yet, people in various rural areas of Moga district are at the mercy of God for want of basic health facilities in their areas as most of the dispensaries have been without medical staff.
People had seen a ray of hope when the government appointed some staff in some of the dispensaries in October 2008, but soon they were shifted to urban areas and many dispensaries even had to face closure due to the shortage of staff.
Interestingly, there are some multi-purpose health workers, auxilliary nursing midwives (ANMs) and pharmacists in some dispensaries, but they cannot prescribe medicines according to the drugs law.
However, they are doing so as there are no doctors. About three years ago, the government had upgraded mini primary health centres to primary health centres and they are supposed to be providing 24-hour service, but the number of medical staff in most of these dispensaries is not sufficient at the moment.
On the other hand, the infrastructure at the rural health centres is in a shambles. The houses meant for the staff are in a bad shape and have not been occupied for long. Furthermore, expensive equipment worth crores has been lying unutilised due to lack of technical manpower.
The dysfunctional state is apparent from the broken beds, damaged window glasses and wild growth all around.
At the health centre of Thathi Bhai village in the district, all the six posts of doctors have been lying vacant. The centre is being run by pharmacists and ANMs.
At Badhni Kalan, all the posts of doctors and other medical staff are vacant. Similar is the condition of primary health centres of Patto Heera Singh, Baghapurana, Rauke Kalan, Dagru and Lopo villages.
Dr Raj Dular Singh, a social worker of Smalsar village, told Hindustan Times that they had tried to do improve things at the primary health centre of Sekha Kalan but nobody gave any response to their pleas.
He said residents of 45 villages in the district had no proper medical facilities in their respective areas and they have to go to distant places such as Ludhiana, Bathinda, Faridkot, Chandigarh and Patiala for treatment or to private hospitals,” he said.
When contacted, Barjinder Singh Brar, chairman of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation, said, “ANMs and pharmacists are doing well at rural health centres; however, I would check health centres in rural areas myself and would do my best to improve things as much as possible under the circumstances.”