40pc of Farah residents lack access to basic health services
FARAH CITY (Pajhwok): Forty percent of western Farah province residents lack access to basic health facilities and in some areas, it takes 24 hours for a person to reach hospital for treatment.
These residents complain about a shortage of professional doctors in district clinics and about expired medicine in medical stores and none-availability of vital vaccines.
Amir Jan Agha, a tribal elder form Toth locality of Gulistan district, said most of the residents had no access to health facilities. He said the only clinic in Qala-i-Khuna area had no professional doctor to examine patients.
Amir Jan said most people in Gulistan district traveled to Kandahar and Herat provinces for treatment as there were no proper heath facilities in their own areas.
According to Jan, the distance between Gullistan and Farahrud is 150 kilometers and the residents have to transfer their patients there on a car or motorcycle.
He claimed except Toth and Mughabad villages, no vaccination campaign had been carried out in other villages of the district in recent years.
Mohammad Azim, a member of Shiwan village council, also complained against poor health services in Bala Buluk district. He said three clinics were functional in the town but they could not offer satisfactory services to people.
Hassamuddin, another member of the council, said: “In the clinic of Shiwan village, there is no professional doctor and midwives and nurses appointed by powerful individuals remain absent all the time.”
Without going into details, he claimed the number of medical stores in Bala Buluk district had increased and most of them had no license. Run by unprofessional individuals, sold expired drugs were sold in these stores, he said.
But public health officials said two clinics were functional in Bakwa district and work to establish a third clinic was in progress.
Ghausuddin, administrative chief of the Pushtrod district, said three clinics were functional in the district centre, Masaw and Nali Dasht localities, but were unable to provide health services to people.
He acknowledged residents in some areas had to travel for 10 to 15 kilometres on a vehicle to transfer patients to a health centre.
The district chief also complained about a lack of professional health officials, medicines and said five more clinics were needed to address health people’s health related issues in Pushtrud.
Abdul Khaliq Noorzai, the district chief of Khak-i-Safid district, said there were three clinics in the district and one of them had doctors and the remaining two were being run by nurses.
Farid Ahmad Hibat, deputy head of the civil society organizations, also slammed the provincial government for not providing basic health facilities to residents of Farah.
He said no female doctor was available at district clinics except in Anardara district. He said health facilities in Anardara, Pusthkoh, Shibkoh, Juwin and Purchaman districts had somehow improved.
He said private clinics were not available in districts, but a few had recently been established in Farah City, the provincial capital, where these private clinics were dubbed as “substandard” by delegations tasked by the government.
Without naming an individual, Hibat said owners of these clinics were yet to be punished except some cash fines due to their connections with some lawmakers and powerful individuals.
“I visited a doctor for skin problem. He prescribed me a bag of medications, but after using the medicines for one and a half months, it had no effect, so I was obliged to go to Herat. In Herat, the doctor only prescribed a cream and a pocket of tablets which helped,” a resident of Farah City, Imaduddin, said.
An official at the provincial public health department said on the condition of anonymity that owners of medicine stores bought low quality medicines from importers against 50 percent profit. He accused public health officials of not taking action against sellers of low quality medicines despite being fully aware of it.
Public Health Director Dr. Abdul Jabbar Shaiq confirmed nearly 60 percent of people in Farah had access to basic healthcare services that eluded the remaining 40 percent.
He said they were trying their best to provide basic health facilities to people in remote parts but the goal could be achieved only when they had funds in hand.
Currently, there is one hospital and 11 health centres in Farah City, one hospital and two health centres in Pusht-i-Koh district, two health facilities in Bakwa district, three health centres in Bala Buluck, three in Pushtrod, three in Khak-i-Safed, two in Andardar, four in Juwin, three centres in Shibkoh, six centres in Purchaman and one health centre in Gulistan districts, according to the public health director.
About polio vaccination, the director said vaccination campaigns faced problems only in some areas of Gulistan district. He said there were professional male doctors in all clinics of the province, but there was only one female doctor in Anardara district clinic and no female doctors in other clinics.
He denied claims regarding expired and substandard medicines in the province, saying there were 84 medical stores in the province run by 22 pharmacists and the rest by nurses due to a lack of enough pharmacists.
All medical stores in government-control areas have been issued licenses, but he has no information if some stores were run without licenses in restive areas.
Based on recent regulations of the Public Health Ministry, there should be one pharmacist and deputy pharmacist in a first grade medical store, one pharmacist in second grade pharmacy and deputy pharmacist in third grade medicine hall.
He said four private clinics namely Tabiban, Amiran, Danish and Watan Apolo operating in the provincial capital were declared sub-standard after an assessment and were fined in accordance with the law and others were partially closed.
The clinics of Tabiban, Amiran and Watan Apolo were allowed to resume their operations after paying the fines and upgrading their services, he said, adding Danish clinic had resumed operations illegally. “We have shared the issue with police headquarters, but they are yet to take action to close the clinic,” he said.
However, provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Toryalay Abdyani said he was unaware of the issue. He said he had been recently appointed as the police chief of Farah and he would take step if the public health department sent him a report in this regard.
However, the owner of Danish clinic, Dr. Mohammad Hashim Danish, rejected the allegations as baseless, saying he had hired professional doctors in the clinic and had already submitted academic certificates of the doctors to the public health department.
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