(PS – With no malice towards the medical fraternity.)
Especially lower income group patients and the affluent ones also in my village, especially trust the Bangali Daktar ( nobody knows his qualifications), the one who has his ‘dukaan’ in a one-room setting in the village with a table and chair, and a bench to see the patients and a stock of medicines lined up very neatly on the shelves. They prefer visiting this Daktar relative to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) doctor.
Since June because of the lockdown have been in my village and have visited the Daktar four times for minor ailments, including myself, because the PHC doctor is not available, whenever have been to the PHC.
Our farm caretaker of Nepali origin, who has been with us for more than 3 years refused to go to the PHC as he had gastric flu. On coaxing when asked, he said our family members and I never go to the PHC. The ‘Doctor’, is not available often and if available doesn’t to patients like us and the staff does not attend to us well, nor do they give us medicines, it is better to go to the private Bangali Daktar who at least talk with respect and queries about the ailments.
After much pursuance, he was ready to go to the PHC when I told him that I would accompany him, and as usual, the ‘Doctor’ was not available at the PHC. The PHC is a huge well-furnished building and was being painted when went there. The office attendant there who makes an entry in the register said the doctor would come the next day.
She said she would give medicines to the patient I was accompanying. And gave 3 medicines, when I asked for ORS, she casually remarked ‘Han hai’ (yes it is available), and then she reluctantly gave two packets of ORS after I asked her thrice.
I asked if she could measure the BP of the patient, and she casually remarked if the patient has a history of BP then only we measure it.
Such is the state of affairs of the staff and as per the villagers around, the doctor is hardly available, though the issue of the lack of staff and non – non-availability of doctor has been raised with the Gram Panchayat and authorities but to no avail.
The state of Himachal though is credited with a strong and sound public health system and a good outreach in the rural areas. Yet there are examples outlining mistrust in the public health system in small pockets of rural areas in some villages which might be indexical of the larger situation (cannot say with a conviction for other areas). Such situations and incidents lead to mistrust in the public health system and to the thriving of non-qualified practitioners in different pockets.
PS-This is not a journalistic write-up nor a research piece loaded with figures, it is an observation with a rights perspective, to look at the gaps in what should be available and is not being offered.
Communication and Journalism Consultant
Village Mandal, Tehsil – Jubbal,
suraykha (at) gmail.com