Jaipur: When the government failed to provide health services, people in two remote villages of Rajasthan did something remarkable. Instead of pleading or protesting –a very common tactic used by people to force government to accede to their demands- they generated own resources to build state of art hospitals in their respective villages.
A distance of more than 300 km separates village Chanod in Pali district to Gida in Barmer district but shared similar problem: primary health centre in their villages were in ruins. In Chanod, the public health centre had been functioning in a building that was donated in 1928 by the erstwhile ruler of the area. The building was in dilapidated conditions and the roads leading to it, in time, proved too narrow for ambulances.
Similarly, in Gida, not just the building is weak but the roof is also leaking. The villagers gave many presentations but the state government didn’t release any budget for the repair. It was tough on doctors to treat people in such conditions and slowly people stopped going to these primary health centres.
But, people didn’t sit quietly. They decided to take matters in their hands. The inspiration came from two people. In Chanod sarpanch Shankar Lal Gehlot was the driving force behind the donation drive. Gehlot who left behind a flourishing business in Mumbai to return to his village himself donated Rs one crore. With more than Rs 3 crore, the villagers turned a small health centre into a huge hospital equipped with modern facilities. It has an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), operation theatre and extensive diagnostic facilities.
But, these facilities remain un-utilised as two doctors from a nearby public health centre (PHC) now function out of this hospital. More doctors are needed but for that the PHC has to be converted into community health centre, which is facing the typical bureaucratic hurdle. As per government rules a PHC can only have two doctors only a community health centre can have more doctors. However, despite several requests the sanction is yet to come.
“My village needed a health centre. People would otherwise go as far as Pali and Sumerpur even for minor health problems. We built the hospital but the government is not appointing doctors despite several requests,” Gehlot said.
On the other hand, in Gida, it was a doctor appointed at the PHC who encouraged people to collect money for repair of the health centre. The 700 villagers contributed Rs eight lakh and converted the health centre into a private hospital-like, clean and neat health centre along with CCTV cameras and flowers.
It has now become the top Primary health Centre of the state with annually 25000 outdoor patient visits, six times more than mere 4200 in 2012. It is also top on the ranking for last five years in family planning.
“We sat with villagers to discuss the problem and how this can be changed. We had Rs 11 lakh from contribution by villagers and donations that was spent on flooring, roof repair and CCTV cameras. This is now top PHC in the state with 25000 OPD,” said Dr. Jogesh Choudhary, head of the PHC.