RAWALPINDI: The 191 state-run dispensaries in Rawalpindi district are in need of doctors, medicines and basic facilities, officials said.
According to health officials, the free healthcare facilities running under the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) are victim of government neglect.
Around 226 posts for doctors and paramedical staff are lying vacant in these medical centres but the provincial health authorities have yet to make the requisite hiring, officials said requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to the media.
If the basic necessities like medicines, laboratories and others are provided, the unusual load of patients on Rawalpindi’s three Allied Hospitals can be eased, the said. However, the local government and Punjab health department has completely failed to fulfil its responsibilities. Rs200 million is spent on these health centres annually which is actually peanuts as compared to the growing population.
At present, Rawalpindi has 35 health centres, out of which buildings of six health centres are being upgraded. However, this upgrading work remains incomplete.
There are 98 basic healthcare centres in the entire district, eight in rural areas, 13 mother-child healthcare centres, six general dispensaries and 37 district council dispensaries are functional.
These health facilities cumulatively serve more than 5,000 patients daily.
Despite being a public healthcare service, these units lack the required number of doctors, nurses and technicians. The simple facilities of laboratory and X-ray machines are also absent.
At present, the government has accepted grants to provide the municipal dispensaries with 15 medical officers among the fulfilment of 224 vacant posts. But so far, only 7 medical officers among 99 posts have been filled, with 8 medical officers and 101 posts still vacant. In rural dispensaries, 203 posts are still vacant with only 4 medical officers occupying the spots while 11 medical officers and 101 posts still remain vacant. The local administration has repeatedly requested the provincial authorities on the vacant positions, but to no avail.
On the other hand, sources say that the government dispensaries are given a budget of Rs20 million annually for the medicines and a 15% deduction is made in this budget has become a norm. For medicines, the annual budget per dispensary is Rs22,278 or around Rs1,840 per month and Rs61 per day for facilities have patient footprint of over 5,000 per day.
Sources also say that the medicines’ budget is being cut by 15% annually resulting in further shortage in supply of medicines.
They said that if the total allocations were spread over the number of slips these dispensaries issue to visiting patients the estimate would come around Rs21 per patient.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2018.