In India, the majority of healthcare centres in rural and hilly areas have largely been inadequate in providing quality health services. According to a report in 2018, only 11 per cent sub-centres, 16 per cent community health centres and 13 per cent primary health centres meet the Indian Public Health Standards, while the rest lack basic facilities and staff for treatments. Here is the story of the sad state of affairs in a village in Uttarakhand
Fort-three km away from district headquarters Bageshwar, Karmi Village is deprived of medical services. The community health centre in the village is hardly able to meet the medical needs of the people. It is a dingy structure with few beds and bare mimimum facilities. Interestingly, the livestock in the village are also taken to the same centre for treatment.
Getting access to ambulance services is another major challenge – lack of motorable roads and a poor road network make it difficult. In emergency situations, the villagers are compelled to book private taxis that charge an awful lot. Thus, most people prefer not to get any treatment as they are unable to afford the expense. Pregnant women face the most hardships. “Due to extreme labour pain most women have lost their lives since they are unable to get immediate treatment,” says Kamla Devi, a resident of the village.
On the other hand, the accredited social health activists (ASHA) in the village who work towards improving maternal health have to often undergo immense pressure to provide care to the mother in the prevailing circumstances. “We have to be on our toes all the time because there were times when we had to deliver the newborn on our way to the hospitals. Since there is no health care service in our village, we have to go to Kapkot to avail services. In case we don’t find any hospital with doctors, we then go all the way to Bageshwar. Imagine the condition of the patient and the pressure we undergo to travel 43 km in the hilly region during critical conditions,” says Pushpa Devi.
The adolescent girls in the village have their share of problems. Most of them are not aware of their health conditions and, sadly, have no one to consult. Sita (name changed), a teenager from the village, have got used to bearing period pains. “I have to bear this hardship every month. My family believes it’s a hassle every month to take me to a hospital in Kapkot as we do not have this basic facility in our village,” she says.
Sita adds: “There are personal things that we want to share only with the female doctor, there isn’t even a hospital, let alone a female doctor. Besides, there are several myths about menstruation or any reproductive health concerns which need to be broken. Without any hospital and doctor, we do not see this happening.”
Kaushalya Devi, the sarpanch (panchayat head) of the village, understands the gravity of the situation. “The panchayat considers this challenge to be significant and we are trying to resolve this problem at the earliest. From elderly to new born, every being in this village is deprived of even timely checkups and mainly rely on the over-the-counter medicines for their illness,” she says.
The local administration will be able to solve the problems only when there is full support from the concerned department.
Note: The writer is a student of Class 9 and a resident of Karmi Village, Bageshwar.
Devika Dubodiya, Kapkot, Bageshwar, Uttarakhand
(Courtesy: Charkha Features)