Punjab people deserve better health care

AJ. Philipís survey of primary health centres in Punjab (Feb 4, 5 and 6) has brought out the pathetic neglect of the basic healthcare. The Bhor Committee (1943) has laid down the three-tier health setup for the country with the primary health centre as the pivot for providing preventive and curative services at the grassroots level. District hospitals and specialised higher medical institutions were to provide the secondary and tertiary care service.

Instead of strengthening the PHCs and district hospitals with adequate staff, equipment and drugs, the government continues to hoodwink the public by announcing new schemes which hardly make any impact. People, especially the poor, continue to be denied the basic healthcare as enshrined in the Constitution. No doubt, Punjab is lagging behind in social service indices, of which health services is an important segment compared with many other states.


Having closely observed the working of PHCs in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, I feel that the system is best for the country if appropriate steps are taken to strengthen it and plug the loopholes in its working. Instead of wasting financial and human resources in unproductive activities like realty development, it would be better to improve the existing peripheral health services to provide succour to the suffering rural folks of the state.

Brig H. S. SANDHU (retd), Panchkula


The survey exposes the functioning of medical institutions in the rural areas. If it covered villages in the border areas, the result would be even more surprising with negative findings.

There is no field of public administration where the state can claim to have achieved remarkable success. In government departments, everything moves with political motive in mind; the senior bureaucracy has by and large given in and therefore ceased to be innovative.

There is a big dichotomy between unscientific and irrational way of life of our masses and the basic knowledge required to understand human physiology and medical sciences.

It is the sense of irrationalism that shapes our normative behaviour from the very childhood, and even the teachers and doctors follow this way of life. The politicians, the heads of samadhs, peers and  religious deras all encourage these irrational values.

Our priestly class succeeded in delinking the growth of medical science in ancient India from the domain of natural sciences at a particular stage of societal development.

Thereafter, no philosopher or medical thinker has been able to abolish this delinkage. I thank Mr Philip for highlighting the broom-and-salt remedy for curing scabies ó a cultural hangover.

G. S. BAL, Jalandhar


True, healthcare services in public sector are not up to the mark all over, yet the picture is not as gloomy as presented in the survey. The fact that about 10 million outdoor patients visited the public sector health institutions last year shows that the poor still have faith in the state-run hospitals.

There is no health institution globally where you can just walk in, get consultation and some medicines free of cost. After filling of vacancies of Rural Medical Officers under Zila Parishad, the people in the rural areas have some doctors at least during the daytime. I donít agree that all the 3000-odd ANMs and over 1,000 rural health doctors are always absent though many of them may be on leave occasionally.

Punjab Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla has been striving hard to upgrade the services. Many a time, vested interests create hype against the public sector health institutions to defame them in favour of the private sector clinics which are equally ill-equipped, inefficient and beyond the reach of common people.

To run a charitable health institution is an uphill task. We are also running a 20-bed hospital in a semi-urban area surrounded by several villages in Jalandhar district. It is difficult to satisfy the patients even with the best of services free of cost. People should strengthen the hands of the present set up to upgrade the basic health services.

DEEPANKAR SUMEDO, Sufi Pind, Jalandhar Cantonment


Poor quality of governance

Politicians, public forums and courts have been attributing societal ills to the lack of public commitment. This is just passing the buck. Even the media willy-nilly succeeds in confusing the public by flashing such sermons to the public. The core issue where matters go wrong are not touched and are left to the peopleís imagination.

Why is there a half-hearted approach to societal ills despite suitable laws? There is something wrong with the implementation, proving that every strain of the system is made to bend, either through the lawmakers who hold power, the police, or even the judiciary.

One often comes across streaks of villainy in courts, in public places and even on roads which people have the right to use. The rich, the musclemen and power brokers show no empathy for human beings. When the system gets polluted, and the country is poised for economic resurgence, we need fundamental improvement in governance. This is not happening because the rulers are only aiming at power and prestige.

Lt-Col CHANAN SINGH DHILLON (retd), Ludhiana



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