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Inadequacy of health services haunts Logar inhabitants


Inadequacy of health services haunts Logar inhabitants

Oct 22, 2017 - 10:57

PUL-I-ALAM (Pajhwok): Most residents of central Logar province complain they have to travel to Kabul or other provinces for medical treatment because of insufficient health services in their areas.

On the other hand, officials say the health department was not provided with its due share of medicines on the basis of wrong census statistics by the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO). 

As a result, patients travel to other places for the treatment of minor ailments, they acknowledge, urging higher-ups to address the issue in the interest of public health.

Syed Asher Agha, a resident of the Pangram locality of Charkh district, told Pajhwok Afghan News health services in his area were poor and people had been facing immense problems.

“There is no hospital in Charkh district, where there are only two clinics providing basic health services. People take their sick relatives to the Logar Civil Hospital or Kabul for treatment,” he says.

Tribal elder Mohammad Nasir from Kharwar district also grumbles about the inadequacy of health coverage in his neighbourhood, where two clinics are functional but could not deal with health problems of residents.

“There is no qualified doctor or medicine available at these clinics. Therefore, we are obliged to transfer our patients to Kabul or Gardez, the capital of neighbouring Paktia province."

He says the residents of Kharwar shift their patients in difficult conditions, including bumpy and broken roads, to other places for medical care.

“In winter, it is very difficult transferring our sick relatives to other places. Women and children often die on the way,” he adds, asking the authorities to resolve the health issues facing Logar residents.

Baz Mohammad, hailing from Barak-i-Barak district, points to improper health services in the district and a shortage of doctors, medicine and ambulances in the local health centre.

“We take our patients to Kabul and purchase medicines from the market, which means there are no health services in the district,” he remarks.

Haji Ibrahim, coming from the Akbarkhel area of Azra district, says they have to travel many miles to shift their patients to Nangarhar province for treatment.

The main road connecting Azra with Pul-i-Alam has been blocked due to insecurity over the past 14 years. Most residents of the Azra are poor and unable to evacuate their patients to Nangarhar.

“Most people have no money for the treatment of their family members; some get well by the grace of Allah while others die in a state of helplessness,” he regrets.

Ashaqullah from Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital, has to visit Kabul for Hepatitis-C treatment once every two or three months.

He stresses: “There must be Hepatitis-C treatment facilities in Logar because it is a common disease, but I have to spend money and time traveling to Kabul.”

Ahmad Shakir, a resident of Kharwar, wants to go to Kabul for the treatment of his leg. “My leg was injured in a traffic accident, but there is no one in Kharwar to properly treat it.

“I went to Pul-i-Alam for medical care but there was no doctor there, so I have to go to Kabul,” he explains, saying he would go to Peshawar for treatment if his problem is not resolved.

Local officials acknowledge the inadequacy of healthcare in the province. Charkh district chief Mohammad Hanif Hanafi confirms public complaints about improper health services in the province.

“I have witnessed people carrying their patients to Kabul and other areas and they do so because their patients cannot be treated here.” According to him, two small clinics in Charkh provide only first aid.

Similarly, Azra district’s administrative chief Hamidullah Hamid also says inhabitants have to contend with serious health issues.

“It is beyond my power to resolve their problems. The central government should do something…All resident have to take their patients to Nangarhar, spending 6,000afs in taxi fare alone.”

Provincial council also members hold similar views. One of them, Abdul Wali Wakeel, admits people are faced with numerous issues in terms of healthcare but the government has been paying no heed.

“Logar inhabitants, deprived of basic health services, often complain to the provincial council. Eighty percent of sick people are not treated at state-run hospitals; instead they go to Kabul or other provinces.”

Another public representative, Haseebullah Stanikzai, slams the health services offered in the province as ‘very poor’, blaming the government for taking no step to resolve the issue.

“Many Logaris travel to Kabul or Pakistan for treatment as hospitals here are ill-equipped and doctors not skilled. However, many families can’t afford to travel that far and are forced to borrow money.”

For his part, Logar Public Health Director Dr. Rasool Gul Samar says health issues exist all over Afghanistan. “I admit there are issues but they aren’t as serious as people say.

“We are making all-out efforts to provide health services to people and all our health centres are functional,” according to the official, who says 53 health centres with professional doctors are active across the province.

Samar says: “The main issue is that the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO) has given flawed figures about Logar’s population to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).

“Based on CSO statistics, the ministry gives us medicine for 350,000 people. But in fact 800,000 people refer to our hospitals and clinics on an annual basis.”

The issues have been shared with MoPH and the officials concerned have promised addressing them, according to the director.

Meanwhile, the governor’s spokesman, Saleem Saleh, claims provincial officials are making efforts to solve health problems.

“Our efforts include the establishment of the Naib Aminullah Khan Hospital as 90 percent of work on it has been completed.”

In response to a question, he says 70 percent of Logar patients are treated inside the province.

In addition to Logar, people from other parts of Afghanistan also transfer their patients to Kabul or other areas for treatment.

A few days back, residents of Helmand province told Pajhwok about poor health services, saying they take their patients to Pakistan or Kabul.