Locals of Teerat union council have threatened to launch protest if the government does not ensure presence of a doctor in the only Basic Health Unit (BHU) in the area.
“We have to go to big hospitals for the smallest health problems since the doctor at the BHU does not show up for duty,” claimed Bachazada, a resident of Jarro village in Teerat. Being poor, he said he cannot afford to get treatment from Saidu Group of Teaching Hospitals.
The locals claim that the BHU offers no healthcare facilities. “The absence of qualified staff is one thing, but if we have to cover long distances to buy medicines then what good is the BHU?” said Sohail, a resident of Qandeel.
The union council was adversely affected during the 2010 floods, which swept away 300 houses and most of the agricultural land in the region.
“The floods left us homeless; we have no source of income and are facing many health problems. Diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis are common but the only doctor [at the BHU here] does not bother to come to work,” said Fazal Karim, a social activist. He added that even the health department had turned “a deaf ear” to their complaints.
“The poor people are forced to consult unqualified medical practitioners, which has its risks. Using low-quality medical equipment is prone to spreading disease,” Sajjad Ahmad, a medical expert told The Express Tribune.
Habibullah Habib, a local Awami National Party worker, said that the BHU is the only source of medical treatment for the villagers and if the health department does not ensure presence of a doctor here within a week, they will stage a protest. “We will lock the BHU permanently and the responsibility will fall on the concerned department,” he threatened.
When contacted, Imran Khan Yousafzai, a focal person in the district office of the People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative, said that after receiving complaints from locals, he summoned the said doctor and communicated the concerns of the locals. “The accused doctor said that he attends the BHU regularly, but due to the long distance and check-points on his way, he reaches a bit late, for which locals took him to be absent,” he added.
However, Yousafzai said he has formed an investigative committee to probe the case. “We will get the inquiry report after four days, which will be sent to the director general health for further action,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.