At a time, when officials of the Punjab health and family welfare department and the district administration are busy in tackling the menace of hepatitis B, C and cancer in Mari Mustfa village of the district, the block-level community health centre (CHC) at Thathi Bhai, under which Mari Mustfa falls, is facing the problem of not only lack of sufficient medical staff, but has also been, surprisingly, running without electricity for the last 20 years. Mari Mustafa is 16 km from Thathi Bhai.
A portion of the block-level community health centre (CHC) at Thathi Bhai in Moga district. The wall on the left once carried the power meter and related equipment.
The then Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had disconnected power supply to the hospital due to non-payment of power bills in 1994, but the health department has not bothered to get the power restored by paying the bills since then.
The residents of 52 villages are completely dependent on this CHC for health services.
Dr Raj Dular Singh, a social worker of Smalsar village, told the Hindustan Times that the Punjab government had set up this health centre at Thathi Bhai over an 8-acre piece of land. “But, when, 20 years ago, the electricity was disconnected due to pending power bills, bad days started for this health centre,” he said.
The residences of doc - tors and other medical staff are completely damaged and deserted. Furthermore, expensive equipment worth crores is lying unutilised due to lack of technical manpower.
All the six posts of doctors at the CHC are vacant and the hospital is being run by some pharmacists and auxiliary nurses and midwives (ANMs). “A total of 21 posts of paramedical staff are vacant in the hospital at present. Besides, 2 posts of pharmacists, 1 of chief pharmacist and 1 of medical officer (MO) are also vacant. Only the post of senior medical officer (SMO) is filled,” said the social worker.
Senior medical officer (SMO) Gurmail Singh sits in the hospital but most of other staff sit in the old hospital of Baghapurana.
A medical officer and chief pharmacist visit the community health centre (CHC) twice a week from Baghapurana’s old hospital.
The SMO said, “Due to lack of sufficient funds, the power supply of the CHC was disconnected 20 years ago and the electricity meter was also taken away. However, we are going to pay pending bills soon and then we will apply to the PSPCL for restoration of the power connection.”
Some poor patients come to the hospital from nearby villages. but they are only referred to other hospitals.
Darshan Singh, sarpanch of Mari Mustfa, said, “We had written several times to the higher authorities to improve the condition of the hospital, but to no avail.”