Healthcare in ashes: BHU burns to ground in Battagram

Fire ravaged building, most equipment and medicines inside; negligence alleged; terrorism ruled out.

Express September 03, 2011


A Basic Health Unit was burnt to ashes after the building caught fire in unexplained circumstances here on Friday. However, police sources brushed aside speculation of terrorist involvement, adding that the cause of inferno was short circuiting.

Local people and police told that the building of the Basic Health Unit in Arghashori village in the Battagram Union Council caught fire, which quickly engulfed the entire building and burnt its structure, doors, windows, medical instruments and medicines. However, according to health sources and police, EPI vaccines and medicines were recovered unaffected. Gulzar Khan, the watchman of the BHU, told the police that he was in his room when the building caught fire, and he was unsure what caused the inferno that completely destroyed the hospital’s building which was built with wood and corrugated iron sheets. He told the police that he could not put out the fire because he did not have the keys to the building and he had to call the villagers, who tried their best to douse the flames with water, but all in vain.

Battagram Police Station House Officer Arshad Khan told The Express Tribune that the fire was the result of short circuiting and claimed negligence on the part of the watchman, saying he was absent from duty and only rushed to the scene when he was informed about the fire by fellow villagers.

He said the incident was purely accidental and not an act of terrorism, and the loss of building was due to the long distance between the BHU and the nearest fire brigade.

The SHO added that he has not yet received a written complaint against anyone from the health authorities.

The BHU catered to the healthcare needs of a population of over 50,000 villagers in Arghashori and surrounding areas, and treated over 100 outpatients daily.

The Battagram Health executive district officer was not available for comment due to the public holiday.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.