Sitamarhi District. ‘This place is just a bhoot bangla (haunted house), abandoned and dilapidated,’ says a resident of Narkatiya village. The closest health centre to the village was constructed 15 years ago, and now lies dirty and defunct, inhabited only by the ghosts of would-be doctors and patients. People from the village have to travel almost 15 kilometres to the Sonbarsa Primary Health Centre (P.H.C.) for the simplest of medical conditions.
Anil Kumar Saha, a resident of the village says, ‘The subcentre has not been cleaned in years. No doctors or nurses even visit the centre. What was the point of spending money to build a centre here? Sushila Devi, another resident says, ‘If this centre were running properly then we wouldn’t have to travel far for simple things like vaccinations and first aid. Right now, we spend unaffordable amounts of time and money to get any medical attention.’
The A.N.M. appointed to the village, Somari Devi, said that she has to go to the aanganwadi centre every time she visits the village to vaccinate children and pregnant women. ‘I cannot sit alone at the subcentre. If I go there, I would need at least one more person as staff so the place is functional,’ she adds.
The Health Supervisor at the district level in Sitamarhi, Vinay Bhushan points to a grave shortage of health workers in the district as the reason. ‘Currently, the district has very few doctors and compounders. Many posts lie vacant. There are 17 blocks in Sitamarhi alone so it is very difficult to provide staff at each subcentre at the village level. It is only when the government fills up these posts that we can ensure that all subcentres are running smoothly.’
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