Paktia residents decry absence of health facilities
GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Residents of remote districts in southeastern Paktia province have been complaining about lack of healthcare facilities and professionals, particularly lady doctors, and medicine.
There are 37 healthcare centres across Paktia, including the capital Gardez, but residents say the facilities lack doctors and equipment.
Nazruddin, a dweller of the Sahak area in Zurmat district, said the only healthcare centre in the town was without facilities.
“Patients who visit the district clinic are only examined and have never been given medicines, which they buy from the bazaar,” he said.
He said people spent thousands of afghanis by travelling to the provincial capital and Kabul for treatment.
A Hassankhel area resident of the Ahmadkhel district, Haji Mir Gul, said the lone hospital in the town provided vaccines and treatment to slightly injured people and nothing else.
Residents in other districts say the lack of professional doctors and medicines are major problems in much of Paktia.
Mutabar Khan, a resident of Gerda Serai district, said nurses had taken on the job of doctors at the health clinic of their district.
“Nurses check patients and write prescriptions on their own,” he said, claiming many patients had expired due to the absence of professional doctors.
Khan said the issue of professional medics’ non-availability should be resolved on a priority basis in addition to addressing people’s concerns about healthcare facilities.
Haji Mirza Mohammad, a resident of the Laji Mangal district, said the main problem residents faced in area of health was a shortage of lady doctors.
He said their area was 40 kilometres away from the district centre and the road between the two destinations was in extremely bad condition.
“There are no maternity care services at our village’s hospital. Residents have no option but to travel the rundown road and take pregnant female relatives to the district centre.”
He said most deaths of pregnant women could be blamed on the road condition and the absence of maternity care.
Dr. Mujibur Rahman Chamkani, who represents Paktia in the Wolesi Jirga, also confirmed the problems.
The lawmaker said: “The population of Paktia is nearly a million people, but the Ministry of Public Health has been providing medicine enough for only 400,000 individuals.”
He said most of Paktia hospitals lacked medicine and doctors as required, calling on the ministry concerned to treat Paktia the way it treated other provinces.
On the other hand, the provincial Public Health Director partially confirmed the health related problems cited by residents, saying progress had been achieved in some areas.
Dr. Baz Mohammad Sherzad told Pajhwok Afghan News that there were 37 health facilities in Paktia --- three big hospitals, 15 basic health units and the remaining health clinics.
He said the number of health facilities in Paktia if compared to the past had significantly increased.
He said the Ministry of Public Health only provided salaries to health workers and facilities in hospitals were being provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
He acknowledged hospitals in Paktia lacked the required number of doctors and quantity of medicines and the available facilities were enough for only 400,000 people.
“In all hospitals, we have male doctors and we are trying to get their number increased. There are problems with regard to the availability of lady doctors. We have recommended that lady doctors should perform duty in remote parts.”
Without giving the number of existing female doctors, the director said lady doctors wer offered high salary and other incentives if they agreed to working in districts.
So far 200 nurses after completing training have been appointed in a number of districts, according to officials.
But one of them, Jamila, a resident of the Zazi Aryub district, said she had been home and not going to job since completing the 18-month training course in Gardez.
“Most of the lady doctors and nurses cannot perform duty in remote areas because they have no transport facility and their families refuse to allow them to work in far-off areas.”
She suggested the government should train local women as nurses and should provide homes to lady doctors in districts.
She said the major problem for health workers was insecurity and police guards deployed at hospitals could provide security to female doctors.
Paktia police chief Brig. Gen. Zalmai Oryakhel said police guards had been deployed at each hospital across the province.
He said no security incident involving health workers had happened so far in the province.
The police chief promised health workers, especially females, would continue to be protected by the police in all parts of the province.
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