Vaccinator fills absent doctor’s shoes at BHU near Peshawar

Female staff members receiving pay but have barely attended the unit since September

Umer Farooq December 25, 2017
Female staff members receiving pay but have barely attended the unit since September. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: It is 30 minutes to noon, and a number of local women with their children are waiting at a Basic Health Unit located on the outskirts of the provincial capital.

However, when their turn comes, the women are shocked to find that instead of a doctor, a vaccinator was diagnosing them and prescribing medicines.

Despite efforts by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government to ensure the presence of personnel at every health facility in the province, some officials have managed to circumvent the government process.

The Basic Health Unit (BHU) Sherkera, on the boundary with Frontier Region (FR) Kohat, not only lacks a qualified doctor, a number of other staff are missing as well.

“We have not had an MBBS doctor at the facility for over a year,” the medicine-prescribing vaccinator told The Express Tribune matter-of-factly as he requested not to be named lest the government take action against him.

The facility offers outpatient services to around 10,000 residents of the surrounding area every month. Locals, however, termed the facility as ‘of no use’ since — despite having been posted — the staff have been least bothered about their duties.

People living around the facility observed that despite the fact that staffers do not perform their official duties at the centre, they are always found attentive at their private jobs.

“It is 11:30am. They (BHU staff) are supposed to be here but they are working private facilities,” a senior citizen at the centre told The Express Tribune, adding, “Who cares since no one has asked them [the absent staff members about their truancy].”

He added that pregnant women from nearby localities were compelled to visit health facilities in the provincial capital or delivered babies at home with the help of midwives at risk of their and the newborn’s health.

Official documents indicate that Medical Officer Dr Faisal Kamran has been assigned to the BHU on October 6. However, Dr Kamran never submitted his joining report to the medical centre concerned. Rather, he submitted it to the medical superintendent at the Civil Hospital in Mattani.

The MS there rejected the report.

The attendance register for December at the BHU shows that there are eight staff members deputed there, including a senior medical technician, a gatekeeper, EPI technicians, ward orderly, Beheshti, driver, lady health supervisor and lady health visitors

The register showed that the lady health workers and female medical technicians had been absent from the unit — and thus their duties —for the past 23 days.

The attendance register betrayed a similar situation for the months of November, October and September which suggested that the female staff members were reluctant to provide their services at the BHU but were still receiving their salaries from
the government.

When contacted, Independent Monitoring Unit’s head Dr Shahzad stated that the situation had been communicated to the health department.

“We only report things, the rest [action against truant officials ] is the job of the officials concerned,” Dr Shahzad explained.

On the other hand, District Health Officer Dr Gull Muhammad confirmed that a doctor had been posted at the BHU.

However, when asked whether he had joined the unit and was tending to patients, the officer said that he did not know whether Kamran ever performed his duties at
the facility.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2017.


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