KP govt urged to take back RHC Mastuj from AKHS

Residents of Mastuj have demanded that the government should take back the rural health centre of Mastuj from the Aga Khan Health Centre (AKHS) and ensure provision of healthcare facilities to the public.

Noor Ahmed Lal of Lakhap, retired Subedar Muhammad Karim Shah, Kissan councillor Sher Nadir from Chinar, Imamuddin from Toq Mastuj, Mir Ayub, Sher Wazir, Khosh Wali Khan, Village Organization Lakhap president Abdul Qadir and Naib Nazim Village Council Sarghuz Syed Jalal Hussain said the availability of basic healthcare was the right of the citizens but by handing over the RHC to the private sector the KP government had snatched this basic right from the residents.

They said the RHC was the only health centre in the public sector catering to people of the Mastuj tehsil up to the Broghil valley. Due to the extreme poverty and remoteness of the area the dwellers are facing numerous healthcare issues and there are not a single public sector healthcare centre to facilitate them.

But instead of opening up more healthcare centre and despite opposition by the residents, the previous KP government entered into an agreement with the AKHS and handed over the RHC to it in 2011. While people of the area could not afford the fees and charges of the private organization and demanded that the centre should be taken back from the private sector, the provincial government renewed the agreement in 2016.

They said the RHC was now charging Rs160 in the morning and Rs270 in the evening shift as he outpatient department (OPD) fee from the patients. Besides, whenever a patient visits the centre even for an ordinary ailment the doctors carry out unnecessary laboratory and radiology tests putting more financial burden on them. As a result, the residents are now avoiding visiting the centre, putting a very negative impact on their health.

To pacify the residents, the government had opened a temporary dispensary in Mastuj but it lacks medicines and staff. When the district health officer (DHO) was approached with a request for the provision of necessary medicines and staff, they were told that the dispensary was temporary and could not be provided medicines and staff on a regular basis.

The residents also said the private organization running the RHC was using electricity from the powerhouse of the local community. But when there is no supply from the powerhouse, they alleged, the management of the RHC charged extra fee from the patients on the pretext of using the diesel generator to facilitate them. They also said under the agreement the AKHS was supposed to appoint at least three doctors at the centre but it failed to meet this criterion. Currently, two doctors appointed by the government are working at the centre while there is no gynecology doctor.

They said a few years ago the people of the area lodged a complaint with the then secretary health KP after which he visited Mastuj in a helicopter of the Aga Khan Foundation and listened to the public grievances. The then deputy commissioner Chital, Osama Ahmad Waraich, was also present and briefed the secretary health about the healthcare issues of the area but the health department boss did not take the matter seriously and left without resolving the issue.

The provincial government should now revisit its decision of handing over the RHC to the private sector and ensure availability of all basic healthcare facilities at the centre to facilitate the locals.

BACKGROUND

In Nov 2013, the Aga Khan Health Service (AKHS) Chitral opened the Rural Health Centre (RHC) in Mastuj after taking it over from the district health department under a public-private partnership agreement.

Addressing the opening function, the speakers had said the RHC building was constructed in 1975 but the government neither provided any doctor nor other staff to the centre rendering it worthless. As a result, the local people remained deprived of basic healthcare facilities and during emergencies they had no other option but to rush their patients to the Chitral town. Most of the people could not afford travelling to the Chitral town and on many occasions patients died before reaching any hospital. After taking over the healthcare centre,

The AKHS installed latest machinery and equipment at the centre besides setting up a labour room. The speakers said the people of the area were very happy with the availability of the medical facilities at their doorsteps. But now the residents told ChitralToday that the speeches were made at the inaugural ceremony by people with vested interest. They said the RHC remained without doctors only for a couple of years. If the absence of doctors was a justification for the handing over of the RHC to the private sector, now it should be taken back as the PTI-led government has appointed a record number of doctors in the province, they pointed out. 

 

(Published in ChitralToday on May 23, 2017, by Zar Alam Khan).

 

11 Replies to “KP govt urged to take back RHC Mastuj from AKHS”

  1. I had been living in RHC mastuj in rented room for more than a year when govt would run it…there were 18 employees but not even a single doctor..now I don’t believe in my eyes to see the facalities over there…many thanks to AKHSP for your good service to humanity..

  2. So unfortunate to raise fake slogan in the eve of earning fake publicity. Question arised if the center is not providing the required facilities and failed to deliver beyond the expectation. As previously, the health unit was there just a symbol of government organization, I think its condition was not better than a shelter for the street dogs.

  3. The editor of this prestigious online daily has worked hard to compile this report, may I also request him to kindly update us about the conditions of the RHC before AKHS took it over? Dr Faizi has kindly put some light on it.

    1. The editor of this newspaper has reported reservations expressed by the residents, whose names are mentioned in the report. The editor never went to them to get their reservations published rather they contacted him. Secondly, in the very intro of the report it is clearly mentioned that “complained some of the locals here.” Then this is followed by mentioning the names of the locals.
      Of course, there must also be people who are happy with the handing over of the centre to AKHS and its current working. If anyone wants to contradict this report or present their side of the story, ChitralToday is always ready to give them the space provided they speak on record by identifying themselves.

  4. RHC Mastuj was established in 1976.The Govt could not provide Xray,Lab,admit ward and doctor in 37 years.On the demand of the people AKHSP signed the agreement and provided the facilities. In case it pulls out, we shall have the same empty rooms again.

    1. If an NGO provides these facilities like xray, lab etc, why govt cannot provide them to the people, and should failure of govt be a justification for privatizing public sector organizations?
      AKHS is a prestigious organization but govt in all parts of country provides at least something free of cost to poor like consultant doctors, lab tests etc. there should also be private medical centres and hospitals for those who can afford. But door of free medical should not be closed on those who do not even afford to purchase a strip of panadol.

  5. @SR Khan and Ali Shahpar…true and nice comment! people were used to travel to Booni and Chitral to get basic health care services while incurring huge cost on travel, hotel stay and on food etc and access to health care services was also a challenge. This initiative helped in addressing common health problems in the area and timely respond to health care services during emergency at local level. Definitely there is always a room for improvement!.

  6. Interesting to see that Kisan Councelor is saying the Doctors order un-necessary test. If you can decide on what is necessary and what not, why you need the hospital and the doctors dude???

  7. This is a one sided and biased story. Excluding the AKHS healthcentres/ RHC, there is no facility for the health of mother and child in the entire upper Chitral (except Booni, probably).
    AKHS has spent several million rupees to provide quality medical equipment to the RHC which none of the government dispensaries in upper Chitral have. See the situation of government health centres/ dispensaries all over upper Chitral and be happy that you have got RHC.
    Providing healthcare is the responsibility of the government but the condition of the government hospital across Pakistan shows that government is not fulfilling its responsibilities that is why AKHS has stepped in to fill the vacuum. A 2013 report in the News showed that patients undergoing dialysis treatment at the Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital contracted hepatitis because of infected surgical instruments. That is the largest government run hospital in the province, its condition tells us about government hospitals across the country.

    1. “A 2013 report in the News showed that patients undergoing dialysis treatment at the Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital contracted hepatitis because of infected surgical instruments.” Your argument lacks logic. You mean in order to cure the headache one should get their head cut. If your logic is applied, then the govt would be asked to hand over all its schools to he private parties because they fail to produce graduates in accordance with the modern day market dynamics. But the govt cannot and should not shy away from its responsibility of providing basic facilities such as health care and education to the citizens.
      Secondly, if the public private sector is so enviable and a solution to our problems, it should also be replicated cross the board throughout the province why this is being experienced in such an area where due to abject poverty people are unable to even pay the fare of a taxi.

      1. Thank you for disagreeing. I hope you agree that before AKHS took over the facility it was in poor conditions; in those days the people of the area traveled to Booni and Chitral town to see a doctor, they can do so even today.
        It is up to the doctor to recommend a test, but the patient may refuse to conduct the test and go home. In the developed countries the doctor cannot even prescribe medicine without tests.
        If the learned people, who have asked to retake the RHC, are so well versed in health science to judge that a doctor is suggesting unnecessary tests, why they do not open their own clinic and why bother visiting doctors who prescribe unnecessary tests?

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