Over 100,000 people of Shadan Lund and its adjoining areas are deprived of healthcare due to lack of medicines and staff as well as corruption at Rural Health Centre (RHC) Shadan Lund here, it is learnt.

Even women of the towns have been seeking a female medical officer in the hospital since long. The RHC has been facing hardship due to lack of staff, absenteeism, mismanagement, malpractice, lab tests facility and corruption in purchase of medicines, X-Ray films and other items.

Local residents said that two lady health visitors having a two-year diploma after matric were performing as woman medical officers in the hospital whereon thousands of women and newborns depend for treatment.

Even one Naib Qasid namely Mumtaz treats the patients in evening shift while third lady health visitor and a sanitary patrol enjoyed official duty at home in the name of general duty respectively at Central Jail DG Khan and Bohar Sub Health Centre, they said. Similarly, they added, an operation theatre assistant worked on general duty at THQ Hospital Taunsa, despite the government of Punjab has ordered many times to cancel all such type of internal or general duty orders.

Ghulam Rasool, a local resident, blamed that the lack of basic medical facilities had now become unbearable for the public. Low standard drugs and lack of medical staff including a WMO, five nurses, one computer operator, one homeopathic doctor, one Hakim, one laboratory technician, four rural health inspector, one homeopathic dispenser, one Dawasaz, one anaesthesia assistant and one junior clerk had affected the people of the region, he added.

An official on the condition of anonymity said that the staff residences and the hospital building especially dirty labour room had not been repaired for many years. Only one residence has been repaired under the Maternal, Neonatal & Child Health programme while 80 percent hospital and residential buildings were dilapidated, he added. He noted that the hospital staff was involved in theft of hospital medicines, funds, diesel of generator and ambulance and looting poor patients in the name of treatment.

He also demanded an inquiry into Rs2.2 million funds utilised for purchasing of medicines, Rs180,000 for X-Ray Films, Rs150,000 for general stores items, Rs40,000 for office stationery, 30,000 for printing and publication, Rs100,000 for bedding and clothing, Rs10,000 for fairs and national celebrations and Rs350,000 for fuel charges.

Talking to The Nation, patient Sarfraz Khan said that the authorities had turned a deaf ear to the entreaty of patients because of the pathetic condition of the hospital and indifference of the staff and doctors. Staff especially medical officers often remain absent or reach the hospital around 12:00pm instead of 8:00am when their official duty starts.

Sarfraz said that patients were forced for treatment in private hospitals of medical officers concerned situated near the hospital. The patients are forced to buy X-ray films or to contact the private X-Ray lab, he added. “There is a need to functioning maternity facility at labour room around the clock but after evening, it is closed completely for the town,” he added.

According to the citizens of town, sale of spurious medicines is afoot on a large-scale in about 20 clinics of quacks in the town. Hepatitis C is spreading rapidly in Shadan Lund and its adjoining towns due to unhygienic conditions and use of unsterilised equipments by the quacks, they said. There is no facility of diagnosis and vaccination in the hospital, it was disclosed.

When approached, Senior Medical Officer Mazher Rafique denied the allegations of the absenteeism of staff; misuse of fuel etc. However, he confirmed that some staff members performed general duty despite lack of staff here.

Answering about Naib Qasid Mumtaz, he claimed that the former was a trained person and performed as helper for treatment of patients. On a question about purchase and shortage of medicines in the hospital, Dr Mazher disconnected the call. Later, this scribe made many attempts but he did not like to answer about the purchase and correct budget of medicines.

When contacted, District Health Officer (DHO) Abdul Rehman Qureshi said that the staff residences and hospital building were dilapidated due to apathy of the District Building Department. Answering about general duty, he said that the SMO concerned would manage it. He added that the SMO had power to purchase the medicines. To a question about non availability of medicines, he too disconnected the call as the SMO did.