ISLAMABAD: Despite making tall claims, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) provincial government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has failed to ensure basic health care to a majority of rural area residents. Official documents have revealed that as many as 73 Basic Health Units (BHUs) in just eight districts of the province are operating without any medical officer at all.
Certified information collected by The News, through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information (RTI) Act 2013 from eight districts of KPK, shows that there are 247 basic health units (BHUs) in these areas of which 73 have no trained doctor available.
In its election manifesto, the PTI had promised to pay special attention to improving health and education sectors for poor population.However, the data shows that the remote district of Hangu is most neglected. The district has a population of 314,529 as per the 1998 census but 80 percent of its people are deprived of basic healthcare facilities. As many as 10 BHUs of Hangu are operating without the services of a doctor while only three BHUs have trained medical officers available.
Swabi is another deprived area in terms of basic health facilities, as 70 percent of its basic health units have no doctor. The district has over 1 million population according to the last census conducted in 1998.
According to local residents, poor and illiterate people of the district have to walk for miles to reach these health units only to find that there is no doctor available in the facility. In total, there are 40 BHUs in Swabi of which 28 have no doctor while only 12 are lucky to have a medical officer.
According to health experts, many lives could be saved by only deputing qualified medical officer in rural areas. They believe the doctors at BHUs can provide life saving support to emergency patients, especially in far-flung areas. The former director of accidents and emergency at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Dr Waseem Khawaja, told The News that the absence of trained doctors in rural areas could prove fatal for some poor patients as they fail to get timely medical intervention.
The official data shows that 60% basic health units are operating without a doctor in district Lakki Marwat, which has a population of 490,025. In total, there are 27 BHUs in the district while 15 are deprived of the services of a medical officer.
In Karak, there are 19 posts of medical doctors in as many basic health units but seven are vacant. In the relatively developed district of Haripur, seven BHUs are functioning without a doctor while it has 39 basic health facilities. In district Bannu, six BHUs have no doctor out of the total 34 facilities.
Charsadda and Nowshera are lucky to have all the posts of doctors filled in the BHUs. Charsadda has 45 basic health units, which are all functioning with the services of doctors. Nowshera has 30 BHUs and all have medical officers available.
Despite repeated contacts, the provincial health minister Shahram Khan did not respond to The News request for version. He was sent a text message on his mobile number with the data of BHUs for comments but he did not reply.The News had earlier reported that in 10 districts of the Punjab, 310 BHUs had no doctor. According to certified data, there are 732 basic health units in these districts of the Punjab.
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