LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The residents of Marja district in southern Helmand province complain about insufficient health facilities and say the available health centers lack doctors and medicines.
However, provincial Public Health Department officials say some areas of the vast district are located far away from health centers and reject the lack of medicine and facilities in the available centers.
They say the Ministry of Public Health has promised to construct new health centers in Marja district to resolve the problem of residents of remote areas of the district.
Nimatullah Dilsooz, a resident of the center of Marja district, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Marja was a large district and most of its areas were far from health centers.
He said there was no female doctor in the existing health centers except for gynecology and women patients faced problems as a result.
“There are no female doctors in the center of Marja district for the treatment of pregnant women, so other sick women cannot be treated there.” He said people had to visit private hospitals due to lack of facilities in the existing health centers.
Maulvi Ali Muhammad, another resident, said besides other problems, patients were not given enough medicines.
He said Marja was a large and populated district and the available health facilities could not cope with its people’s needs, calling on the government to build new health centers as well as finance and equip the existing ones.
Hafiz Ahmad Nusrat, a resident of Lashkargah, the provincial capital, and a university teacher, also asked the government to provide adequate health services to the people.
He said Helmand had been the frontline of the war during the past 20 years and its residents including of Marja district were deprived of health and other facilities.
“Now there is peace, the government and charities should provide health services to the people.” He added that keeping in mind the population of Marja district, the existing health centers and services were insufficient.
Ihsanullah Ihsan, a resident of Marja district and a civil society activist, said there were many areas in the district where people lacked access to basic medical services. He said it was the government’s responsibility to provide health services to the masses.
Haji Muhammad Rahim, a tribal elder from Marja district, who currently lives in Lashkargah city, told Pajhwok that the Marja people not only lacked health services, but they faced problems in other areas including roads, clean drinking water and others.
He said now peace had returned to the country and the government should provide services to the people in various sectors.
Naqibullah Azmi, a doctor at the Marja Central Hospital, said the available health facilities were not enough considering the district’s population.
“The most important thing is that the central hospital has no beds and it should be provided beds and should be upgraded.”
He said 160 to 200 OPD patients were treated daily in the facility and patients who could not be treated here were referred to the provincial hospital.
He also said the Marja Central Hospital currently has gynecology, vaccination, general patient examination and malnutrition treatment departments.
Marja district public health officer Abdul Ghafar Bashar told Pajhwok that 23 health centers were operational in the district and for remote areas, seven mobile teams were practically working.
He estimated the district population at half a million citing their own survey.
Meanwhile, deputy director of the provincial Public Health Department, Dr. Naqibullah Fateh, said enough medicines had been provided to the health centers in Marja district to resolve their shortage.
Fateh added they had recently proposed to the Ministry of Public Health to upgrade the Majra central clinic to a standard hospital and the ministry had also promised to do this in the near future.
“Health centers have been built in areas where they are required and mobile teams are tasked with providing health services to people in remote areas.”
The more than four decades of war in the country has severely damaged many sectors including health.
Although the government and aid agencies had made efforts to provide health services to the people, it may take years to fully standardize this sphere.
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