RHCs in a bad shape

0
87

Rural Health Centres (RHCs) across the country are unable to cater fully to those who do not have access to medical facilities; as they lack staff and essential medical equipment while their physical infrastructure is also in deplorable condition.
A report by the NGO Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), based on the monitoring of 97 RHCs in 66 districts across the country, was issued on Wednesday. The report said, “Nationwide, 26 percent of the monitored RHCs lacked staff to run the Control of Diarrhoeal Diseases (CDD) programme, 22 percent did not have staff to run the Malaria Control Programme (MCP) whereas more than half of the RHCs monitored in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) did not have staff to run either programme.”
The report also said, “Eighty eight percent of the monitored RHCs lacked ophthalmologic equipment, while 15 percent did not have dental examination facilities. Moreover, basic equipment required for diagnoses were also lacking in many RHCs; ECG equipment was unavailable in 57 percent centres while 35 percent did not have X-ray machines.”
The report further pointed out that clean drinking water, washrooms with running water and properly shaded waiting areas were lacking in most of the RHCs. “In KP, more than half of the monitored facilities lacked both clean drinking water and washrooms, while nearly two-fifths did not have waiting areas. Similarly, half of the monitored facilities in Sindh did not have washrooms, while 45 percent did not have clean drinking water and 32 percent lacked waiting areas, whereas RHCs in Balochistan had none of these facilities.”
The report blamed elected representatives and government officials for these shortcomings. “During the April–June 2011 quarter, only nine visits were made by members of the provincial assembly to the monitored RHCs; five in KP and four in Punjab.”
The report said transparency was also a problem in the RHCs as the respective administrations withheld information about sanctioned posts and appointments of medical, non-medical, technical and auxiliary staff, the report said, “This is in contradiction with the Freedom of Information Ordinance which guarantees public access to information in all government offices. Only three RHCs in Punjab shared information about sanctioned posts and appointments of ECG technicians. All of the RHCs monitored in other regions withheld this information.” Only 10 out of the 97 RHCs monitored nationwide shared information about sanctioned posts and appointments of medical officers, the report said.
However, the report also pointed out that 97 percent of the monitored RHCs did have staff to run the Extended Immunisation Programme, indicating that vaccination services were offered at all the RHCs, except for two in KP. The report further said that female staff was present to attend to female patients in 91 percent of the monitored RHCs.