Ailing PHCs, CHCs cry for cure in Telangana

Hyderabad: A suo motu PIL taken up by the Telangana High Court over the death of a woman and her newborn child, after the pregnant woman was forced to travel 124 kilometres while in labour, served to highlight the lack of infrastructure in peripheral health centres.

The woman, 24-year-old Charagonda Swarna, approached a primary health centre (PHC) in Padara of Nagarkurnool district on the night of December 27, 2022, from where she was moved to government hospitals in Amrabad, Achampet, Nagarkurnool and finally Mahbubnagar, where she delivered the baby. But both mother and child died.

The court, in the PIL, identified the lack of infrastructure in peripheries to attend to patients in serious condition, and the lack of operation theatres and specialist doctors as the causes for the incident.

As per the Rural Health Statistics 2020-21 report, the number of community health centres (CHCs) and PHCs in the state are 53 per cent and 12 per cent fewer, respectively, than the required numbers. The report also highlighted a shortage of 53 surgeons, 74 lab technicians and 279 pharmacists for PHCs and CHCs.

Another instance of the shortfall in the number of health centres was seen in a reply to an RTI, which stated that only 72 staffers were available against a sanctioned strength of 258 at the Narayanpet District Hospital.

The RTI reply stated that since the formation of Naraynpet district in 2019, CHCs were sanctioned at Maddur and Kosgi the same year, but they are still under construction, while at Makthal, officials converted a district hospital to a medical college, without completing the construction of a CHC to serve as a substitute.

Dr K. Mahesh Kumar, president of the Healthcare Reforms Doctors Association (HRDA), said that the incident in question clearly showed the lapses in primary healthcare in Telangana. The HRDA has been demanding the health department focus more on improving primary healthcare, rather than focusing on secondary or tertiary care centres.

The lack of specialist doctors at rural health centres is also because many doctors are hesitant to work at these centres. A doctor from a government hospital in Hyderabad said the government should provide some incentive for doctors to work in far-flung areas, as without them, most doctors would choose to work in bigger towns and cities.

As per Rural Health Statistics 2020-21 report

Shortage of CHCs in TS: 53%

Shortage of PHCs: 12%

Shortage of surgeons: 53

Shortage of lab technicians: 74

Shortage of pharmacists: 279

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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