Defunct PHCs, useless health sub-centers, hospitals without beds

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Balwant Singh Bhau

Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Sub-Centres are facing serious infrastructure blues in Jammu and Kashmir with 89 percent having no operation theatre and around 60 percent without proper labour room.

This is something which should worry Minister for Health and Medical Education Bali Bhagat. Released by Statistics Division of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) on March 31, 2016; Rural Health Statistics have brought out worrying picture of health services available in Sub-Centres (SCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) of Jammu and Kashmir. State government has created 637 Primary Heath Centres (PHCs) in various rural habitations across the state.

381 of these PHCs do not have labour room i.e. around 59.81 percent. 567 PHCs have no operation theatre i.e. around 89.01 percent do not have facility to operate patients if the need arises. Since operation theatres are mostly missing, those who approach PHCs for surgeries have no option but to travel hundreds of kilometres and reach the nearest possible Community Health Center (CHC) or District Hospital (DH).

323 PHCs either have single bed facility or upto 3 beds i.e. around 49.3 percent. Four bedded PHCs are a rarity. Though in small number but 30 PHCs are without electric supply and have to be kept in lock-and-Key during the night hours. An emergency during the night hours in these rural PHCs forces staff members to switch over to traditional and old means of lighting.

67 PHCs do not have regular water supply. Though the number is too small but those coming to these PHCs do face innumerable problems. Inside these PHCs, sanitation is a serious issue and for being located in remote areas of state, water has to be fetched from nearby streams and in some cases, even from rivers. 60 PHCs are without all-weather motorable approach roads.

In this modern era when e-technology has connected people all over the globe, 78.8 percent PHCs are without telephone facility. 82.6 percent do not have computer facility. Those which have been provided with computer facility do not have internet connectivity since there are no telephones available. Even 2g facility is not available in most of the PHCs and staff members have to travel to locations where the signal is available to communicate something important via mail or some other medium.

339 PHCs have referral transport. This brings to light 298 other PHCs which do not have referral transport. Patients have to arrange their own transport facility to reach nearest possible PHC or CHC or District or Regional Hospital if they have a serious patient and he is referred for treatment outside PHCs. After PHCs, 2265 Healthcare Sub-Centres have been opened without taking into account facilities available in the area as well as in the surroundings.

Allegations are that the sub-centres have been opened purely for political reasons. Of the total 2265 sub-centres, 1322 i.e. around 58.4 percent do not have regular water supply. 897 i.e. around 39.6 percent Healthcare sub-centres are without electricity supply. 577 i.e. 25.5 percent do not have motorable approach roads. Scenario speaks in volumes about infrastructural woes in the Healthcare sub-centres opened by the state government in various areas of the state.

Most shocking is the fact that state has not sent any information to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare about whether the Health Centres across Jammu and Kashmir are functioning as per  Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) or not. If the report is any indication, most of the Sub-Centres, PHCs and CHCs are not functioning as per the IHP standards.

 

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