Healthcare hamstrung by paucity of funds in Pindi

Scores of dispensaries face closure due to staffing cuts and medicine shortages

Jamil Mirza May 20, 2024


Reports show that 77 dispensaries in Rawalpindi district have been rendered unable to provide treatment due to the elimination of 90 posts of medical officers and dispensers, and non-supply of medicines.

The District Health Authority (DHA) were unable to get a budget for the 2,250 dengue workers whilst the anti-dengue and anti-polio campaigns are ongoing, hence vaccinators have already been protesting.

The treatment system of the entire district, which falls under the management of the DHA Chief Executive, who is always busy giving briefings at government meetings, is currently suffering from the worst situation.

As many as 48 government dispensaries in rural areas and 29 in municipal limits have become completely ineffective. The posts of 60 dispensers and 30 medical officers have been eliminated from 77 dispensaries. Owing to the non-availability of funds for medicines and other needs of the dispensaries, the treatment system that was previously functioning well has now been rendered completely ineffective.

In this way, the properties of these dispensaries, which are worth billions of rupees, are also falling into disrepair. Citizens from these areas are forced to approach already overburdened private clinics, hospitals and major city government hospitals for treatment.

The DHA, which required the recruitment of 2,250 dengue workers on daily wages for the current dengue season, has been denied the budget by the Punjab Health Department. The department has suggested that the DHA should recruit dengue workers on their own if they have the required funds. Meanwhile, the authority owes millions of rupees in bills to vendors supplying them with essential materials. Payments to these vendors are delayed over and over again as they are given a new date for clearance every day by the DHA officials.

On the other hand, the vaccinators’ protest in the office of the DHA for non-payment of POL allowance and other dues came to a temporary pause after the assurance of the Punjab government which had been approached for the budget. Even after contacting the DHA Chief Executive, Dr, Ijaz Ahmed, several times to find out his position on this situation, he could not be reached. This issue has persisted within other projects that have been under his watch as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2024.


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