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HindustanTimes Mon,20 Oct 2014

Dispensaries without medicines, rural docs to go on strike

Anshu Seth, Hindustan Times  Ludhiana, June 20, 2014
First Published: 10:59 IST(20/6/2014) | Last Updated: 11:01 IST(20/6/2014)

The Punjab government's claim that it is providing optimal healthcare services in the state is without substance with residents of most villages unable to get even basic medicines at rural dispensaries for the past one-and-a-half years.

Weary of sending repeated reminders to the government to stock the dispensaries with the required drugs, rural medical officers plan to launch a statewide protest from July 1.

This is the second consecutive summer during which village dispensaries, which are run by the rural development and panchayats departments, have not received supplies of oral rehydration solutions and intravenous lines and fluids that are essential in treating patients suffering from dehydration following an attack of acute diarrhoea or gastroenteritis. Of the long list of over 60 medicines that dispensaries are supposed to stock, the only tablets available at some of them is paracetemol, a mild analgesic.

"What is the point in talking about setting up world-class multispecialty hospitals with top notch doctors when the government can't even operate dispensaries?" asked Tara Singh, who lives in Kishangarh village.

"People in our village don't have access to basic medicines for common cold, diarrhoea, headache and fever. Whenever someone is down with any of these common illnesses, we head for the village drug store or the local quacks," said Piara Singh from Bassami village.

When the state's rural development department took over the responsibility of operating village dispensaries, estimated to number over 1,200, in 2006, the government pledged to provide the latter with medicines worth Rs. 7,500 every month.

Initially, the dispensaries were being supplied 60 types of medicines, including analgesics, antibiotics and iron supplements.

Said a rural medical officer: "In emergency cases like severe dehydration or critical injury, we are unable to administer first aid, let alone intravenous fluids. We refer the patient to the nearest hospital. As a professional it's frustrating."

What is ironical is though officials of the rural development and panchayats department do not appear to be bothered about regular supply of medicines, their bosses insist on checking the attendance of doctors and staff at the dispensaries.

Dr Aslam Parvez, president of the Rural Medical Services Association, said: "We had earlier put off the strike after the government gave us an assurance that medicines would soon reach the dispensaries. However, nothing has been done so far and we now plan to launch our protest in the state from July 1.

Ludhiana, The Punjab government's claim that it is providing optimal healthcare services in the state is without substance with residents of most villages unable to get even basic medicines at rural dispensaries for the past one-and-a-half years.

Weary of sending repeated reminders to the government to stock the dispensaries with the required drugs, rural medical officers plan to launch a statewide protest from July 1.

This is the second consecutive summer during which village dispensaries, which are run by the rural development and panchayats departments, have not received supplies of oral rehydration solutions and intravenous lines and fluids that are essential in treating patients suffering from dehydration following an attack of acute diarrhoea or gastroenteritis. Of the long list of over 60 medicines that dispensaries are supposed to stock, the only tablets available at some of them is paracetemol, a mild analgesic.

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