Basic Health Unit, Fatima Union council Mardan.
Basic Health Unit, Fatima Union council Mardan.

By Asif Mohmand

Basic Health Units (BHUs) are established in every union council of KPK to provide people with basic health facilities.

In order to find out what medical facilities were available on ground to people in these health units, Asif Khan visited few union council of district Mardan for accountability lab.

He discovered that many health units in different union councils in Mardan lacked basic facilities such as provision of medicines and availability of doctors and paramedics. In some health units, medical technicians were performing duties on behalf of doctors while some posts were also lying vacant, for example a lady health visitor (LHV) post was lying vacant for last seven months in health unit of Fatima union council in Mardan.

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LHVs were required to visit villages and provide women with health facilities at their doorstep and these were deemed crucial for providing tips and facilities to women during pregnancy.

The unavailability of medicine at the health units also forced patients to buy medicine form private medical stores, Asif noted.

He learned that BCG injections that prevent TB from accruing in children were finished two months ago and despite many reminders, the BHU hadn’t yet received the injections.

“We have notified concerned high authority through monthly progress report but nothing has happened yet,” said by Zia-ur-Rehman, medical technician in Fatima health unit.

Dr. Abid, who runs a community organisation for public awareness for last five years in this union council, said that they had many meetings with People Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) program to fill the vacant posts of the LHV and provision of other facilities but to no avail.

Female Patients in Fatima Union council, Mardan
Female Patients in Fatima Union council, Mardan.

PPHI is a health program designed by non-government organisation Sarhad Rural Support Program (SRSP) after it was hired by health department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2006 to provide people with health services in 571 BHUs in 17 districts of KP and for this program SRSP recruited 1700 health staff.

The government is responsible to ensure availability of one specialist doctor, two medical technicians, lady health worker (LHW) and lady health visitor (LHV) in every health unit, Dr. Abid said but added that he believed the health officials were not taking primary health issues seriously and as a result primary health is in bad shape, particularly maternal and child health.

Asif Khan is Interviewing Dr.abad about basic health facilities in Mardan.
Asif Khan is Interviewing Dr.abad about basic health facilities in Mardan.

Dr. Abid informs that a few days ago, a 23 years old lady died because of birth complication in the village. Her brother-in-law, Javed confirmed that she was taken to nearby BHU but there was no doctor available to treat her.

“I cannot explain how terrible was that. We could have saved her if there was an immediate help available,” Javed remarked.

Asif Khan then contacted Dr. Liaqat Ali Khan, District Support Manager of SRSP program, who oversees 49 BHUs in Mardan district, and asked when would problems of these BHUs be resolved? He said that they were waiting for budget information of June 2016 and as soon those were available would conduct interviews for all vacant posts.

 

Few medicine in BHU Fatima.
Few medicine in BHU Fatima.

The health department however rejects the impression of not releasing required funds to SRSP and said they had released initially more than Rs.500 million to SRSP regarding staff salaries and for purchase of medicine.

Interestingly, the government contract with SRSP is going to expire on June 30th and SRSP doesn’t seem interested in continuing a job that they had assumed in 2006.

When Asif Khan contacted Chief Executive Officer of SRSP Masood Khan to find out what had happened they he didn’t want to continue this contract, he said that it’s now time for the provincial government to undertake once again the responsibility of providing people with basic health facilities.

What will happen if contract with SRSP is not renewed?

The health minister of KPK, Shehram Khan Tarakai said that Health Department is ready to take over all BHUs from SRSP.

Shehram said that he had published advertisements in the newspapers and sought applications from doctors, paramedics against posts, and he hoped the process of recruitment would be completed this month.

However, It has yet to be seen whether taking over of these BHUs by the government from private firm will make difference in provision of health facilities or not.

 

Mr.Asif fellow of Accountability Lab Organisation in Islamabad did a pashto documentary drama on basic health facilities in KPK which is reproduced here in audio and text form.  The text story is edited by Tayyeb Afridi.