ISLAMABAD-Weak health infrastructure and non-up-gradation of basic health units have increased the miseries of rural population seeking healthcare, an official said on Monday.

The Islamabad district has 50 union councils and its population is considered above 2 million. Around 700,000 people are living in rural areas, but the district has only 15 BHUs, 2 Rural Health Centres (RHCs) and one dispensary.

The official said that the rural health remained neglected in the district as facilities were scattered under different administrative set ups in the city. He said that as health system was separately working under ministry of National Health Services (NHS) and Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), BHUs were under the district administration of the city.

The official said that non-up-gradation of BHUs, non availability of staff and lack of equipment in these health set ups contributed to weakening the health infrastructure of the city. “Rural population is facing direct impact of the administrative negligence,” official said.

He added that as BHUs were not functioning in their full capacity, the burden of patients also shifted to the two major hospitals of the city. Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) caters around 10,000 patients daily, while Federal Government Polyclinic Services Hospital caters above 5,000 patients daily, he said.

The official said that strengthening BHUs would have not only reduced burden of patients on hospitals, but rural population would have been facilitated with healthcare facilities in appropriate manner.

He said that non-availability of CP machines, diagnostic machines including X-rays machines and other medical testing services shortage was a major problem in the BHUs.

More, there are no gynaecology services for a large population and only a medical officer is appointed there.

Medical officers are appointed by two hospitals of the city which are already facing shortage of doctors, said the official.

The official said that rural population in majority belonged to poor backgrounds and could not afford transportation charges for treatment.

He said that essential medicines were also not available for the patients visiting BHUs and they have to rely on medical stores.

“In gynae emergency, patients face severe difficulties when they are referred to major hospitals,” said the official.

“Healthcare is out of access from the rural population of the federal capital,” the official said.

Some of the BHUs are established in Shah Allah Ditta, Phulgran, Pind Begwal, Jhang Saydan, Gagri, Bhimber Trar Kirpa and Tarnol.

The official said that now the BHUs have been also placed under the umbrella on federal ministry of NHS and PC-1 of Rs957 million has been submitted for the up-gradation of BHUs.

He said that government has to provide access to quality healthcare to the public as it has to meet the target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) also.

Spokesperson FGPSH, Dr Sharif Astori said that strengthening of city’s health system largely depended upon strengthening of the BHUs. He said that population of catchment areas are compelled to reach main hospitals as BHUs, lack healthcare facilities.

“People suffering with flue and fever come to main hospital for medicine,” he said.

He said that up-gradation of BHUs would help in providing healthcare facilities to rural population at their doorsteps.

Spokesperson ministry of NHS Sajid Shah said that ministry had decided to upgrade the existing BHUs and construct new ones in UCs for provision of healthcare.

He said that ministry had also signed a memorandum of understanding with World Health Organisation which would provide technical assistance in up gradation on BHUs.

Giving details, he said that 2 new RHCs and 9 new BHUs would be established in rural areas of Islamabad in upcoming years.

He also said that some selected BHUs would be upgraded to offer 24/7 healthcare services.

Earlier, the health ministry in its statement stated that to implement the strategy, each union council of Islamabad would have at least one public health facility.

Federal Minister for NHS Aamer Mehmood Kiyani stated that comprehensive primary healthcare system would also be developed for ensuring a model district health system in the district for which a MoU had already been signed with WHO and further collaboration will be made with other partners.