MOU renewal issue in THQ hospital Garam Chashma

By Muhammad Amin
Every civilized state is bound constitutionally to provide basic facilities to all its citizens for viable sustenance irrespective of caste, creed and social stature. These basic rights include the right to shelter, food, education and access to basic health facilities.

But, unfortunately, in developing and underprivileged countries these rights are not provided to the citizens due to lack of resources and their mismanagement, poor planning, unstable political system and recurring corruption. To supplement government efforts other philanthropic and humanitarian organization provide technical and financial support in different fields.

Chitral is one of the backward districts in the extreme north of the KP province in Pakistan. Due to its remoteness and geographical isolation government intervention has been very minimal in the social sector especially. A number of development actors are working along with the government departments to address basic issues of the community in the valley.

These development organizations are engaged in the area since the early 1980s in the sectors of education, health, natural resources management, infrastructure development and mobilization. With their interventions some changes have occurred in the lifestyle of the community in the district but sustainability has always been a challenge.

Access to basic health facilities has been a critical issue of Chitral. Government initiatives to address health issues have been non- satisfactory so far. Malnutrition, maternity problems, poor hygiene and non-treatment of certain diseases are among some of the crucial health issues being faced by the people.Therefore, often such patients are taken to the down cities of Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi for treatment purposes.

There is an ill equipped district hospital and few THQ hospitals to provide treatment to the rapidly growing population of the whole district. Thus Aga Khan Health Service Pakistan (AKHSP) and Al Khitmat Foundation are also working to support government initiatives in the health sector.

In the year 2015, AKHSP had entered into a partnership with the health department of KP to take over the Tehsil Headquarter Hospital Droshp in Garam Chashma under the policy of public-private partnership (PPP) of the government. An MOU was signed between the parties underlying terms and conditions.

It was a reality that before this MOU the conditions at the hospital were exactly similar to the pathetic conditions prevalent in the rest of the government hospitals. Rarely one could see the glance of a qualified doctor in the hospital and most of the cases were handled by the technicians. For X-rays, various blood and other ordinary tests one had to go to Chitral bearing extra expenses.

Availability of gynecological treatment was considered to be a wild dream. With the overtaking of the hospital by the AKHSP things have begun to improve. One of the prerequisites for quality service delivery is establishment of better environment, hiring of qualified staff and well-equipped laps etc. AKHSP has been successful to ensure these things under the MOU to a great extent, although more has to be done.

If one can make a comparison between the pre-and post-agreement period JUDICIOUSLY and impartially, one is compelled to acknowledge that a lot of improvement has been achieved in providing quality services to the customers at their door step. Despite of harsh weather and remoteness a gynecologist is always available to handle critical gynea cases.

Excellent test facilities are also available which in some way supersede those in the town of the district. A disciplined  and ethical team is working round the clock to provide better service delivery to the patients. Also one should not forget the ill luck days when patients were taken to Chitral resisting heavy snow fall and avalanches causing the main road blocked, but now it is over

Ironically, some elements dislike this partnership agreement and oppose the likely renewal of the agreement expected to be done by the end of this month. Some public representative and civil society members, purely for settling their personal grudges, are not only misguiding the public but putting tough resistance in the matter of the renewal of the agreement.

Their allegation is that AKHSP has not introduced full charges as per the MOU signed with the government. But they can’t realize that PTI government at the beginning of its tenure in the KPK had also made policies to bring changes in the hospitals, but all have not been achieved.

Effective changes will be achieved in a long time and not in five years when whole system is be in the topsy turvy. It is shocking when this matter is taken to the court of law and creating confusion among the people. Responsibilities of public representatives are just to monitoring the services and not bulldozing the whole system.

They are also expected to monitor the thana culture, school performances, closely supervising embezzlement and mismanagement of government development funds. How far they monitor achievements of government schemes contractors is a hundred million question?

In case this partnership will get into turmoil due to the haughtiness of these people they will stand accountable to the people of the area for depriving them of effective service provision. In case this MOU was not renewed, it will be a great loss to the people of the whole area including Karimabad and Arkaritoo. Here only THQ Garam Chashma is single out paying lip services to other crucial matters.

It is beyond any doubt that majority of target population of the whole tehsil is satisfied with the achievements and performance of the THQ under AKHSP. However, tangible results will be achieved when AKHSP will emphasis more on bridging the gaps between the government and AKHSP employees, enhancing better coordination between the organization and the community, recruitment of a pediatrician and hiring of more staff to reduce burden on the existing one.

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