The government has established a hospital in upper Mamond, Bajaur Agency to provide health facilities to some 300,000 residents of the area.
Hospitals and basic health units have been set up for residents of Bajaur who cannot afford to seek healthcare in cities like Timergara, Peshawar and Islamabad.
In 2012, the government laid the foundation for the hospital building with construction to be carried out in a two-phase process. According to information received from the FATA Secretariat’s Department of Health, the first stage includes a laboratory and an outpatient department along with wards which were completed earlier than their scheduled 2014 date.
Three hostels and houses for doctors will also be constructed by 2015, for which Rs197 million in the first phase and Rs199 million in the second phase has been approved.
As far as patients are concerned, 40-bed wards will be available to provide the much-needed health facilities to residents of the area.
Inayatullah Khan, a resident of Mamond, said the majority of residents belong to poor families and are unable to travel to other cities for treatment. He hoped more job opportunities would also be provided as a result of the hospital’s establishment.
Inayatullah added health facilities were now provided at their doorstep and medical professionals of the area are also being given a chance to start their careers.
Similarly, Shah Wali Khan, another local, said time would not be wasted in transporting patients to big cities. “I have seen two cases in which people died while being taken to a hospital in Peshawar,” he said. A hospital in the area had been a long standing demand of residents of the agency, added Shah Wali.
However, Manawar Khan, an elder, criticised the government’s policies and said officials had established a well-furnished building but did not keep a check on its condition. He said due to the unavailability of doctors and lack of basic facilities, several people are still compelled to go to Timergara and Peshawar for treatment. “It is important to provide facilities in the hospital and maintain them so that poor people do not have to commute for healthcare.”
Agency Surgeon Zakir Husain said x-rays and emergency facilities will also be provided at the hospital, adding the burden on Bajaur Agency Headquarters Hospital would be greatly reduced.
Husain further said many health units had been affected by the security conditions, with several being destroyed along with records and medicines.
He said all health centres had now been reopened. “I conduct visits at these facilities to ensure doctors are in attendance,” maintained the agency surgeon. “However, we also need to increase doctors’ posts in conjunction with setting up more facilities.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2013.