Dated 29th January 2014
The District Magistrate
Reg. Absolutely Failed Health System in Bhootni Region, Manikchak Block, Malda and Seeking Your Urgent Attention towards Miseries of common man of Bhootni, especially women and children
This letter is to seek your immediate action for saving lives.
This is to state that the Bhootni region has almost no health care system. The services are far too less than the minimal range that people should expect or require for survival. In reality, the NRHM, the NACP, the RNTCP are absolute failure in this region. There is no DOTS, no diarrhea management, no labour room, no basic diagnostics, no supply of essential medicines and the existing PHC is nearly closed with no staff. Only a doctor and a pharmacist are posted, who are absolutely erring and flout the rules of service in total disregard of human needs and government system.
There is high prevalence of pulmonary TB, almost 99% childbirth at homes, frequent snake bites, high number of diarrhea and intestinal as well as skin infections, accidental death due to sudden fire in thatched homes.
This is to bring to your kind attention that Bhootni is a region with hostile geographical conditions, disaster prone, erosion affected and without any village roads of PMGSY.
The Bhootni region is surrounded by three rivers namely, Phulahara, Ganga and the Morakoshi. There are three GPs, namely, Uttar Chandipur, Dakshin Chandipur and Hiranandapur. There is only mud road in the villages. When a vehicle moves on these mud roads, you feel like an earthquake. There is no public transport system to connect people to the mainland. Villagers need to walk 8-10 kilometers daily to reach a ghat and use boats to cross rivers to come to mainland. Besides, the entire habitat is surrounded by Bund and there is continuous erosion in the river Ganga. The area is hit by floods every year.
The health system is absolutely missing in this area. Lakhs of people live here in utter distress. There is a PHC, which has only two staff. The others are not posted for years. The doctor and pharmacist do not live in the premises despite rules. Thousands of people confirmed that the doctor and the pharmacist are absolutely irregular in their duties.
There is no facility of ambulance and Matrijan. There is no facility of labour room, diagnostics, and laboratory. There is a half constructed building which has been abandoned by some contractor. There is foundation stone of a 10 bed hospital visible, laid by the present Union Health Minister of State in the year 2010.
As above, the people live in acute hardship and without any healthcare. The pregnant mothers and infant children suffer badly. The elderly citizens depend only on quacks. There is no disaster control mechanism and no health system. The supervising officers have just turned a blind eye towards the need of the citizens of this area.
I visited the area a number of times as I was invited by local people. and consequently, the villagers sat with me for a fast for health care on 26th January, 2014. The State Tourism Minister and the CMOH spoke to me and the BMOH came to meet us at the hospital site and assured immediate help. I submitted a written representation dated January 26, 2014 to the CMOH, Malda. Three days are past since then, but no concrete step has been taken by the district authorities to help the poorest of the poor and helpless villagers.
I am writing to bring to your kind attention the following:
- The people of Bhootni are living in utter distress as there is no health system.
- The PHC is run by a doctor and pharmacist who visit for a few hours
- The pregnant mothers are in urgent need of GNM, labour room and matrijan
- The other sick patients are in urgent need of beds, basic diagnostics and basic laboratory tests
- There is an urgent need of free ambulance service both in surface transport and in waterways.
- There is an urgent need to set up a disaster control room for Bhootni much before the monsoon and flood hit the area
- There is a need of rehabilitation of erosion affected families.
- There is need of an urgent Mobile Medical Clinic to cover the remote villages.
I have noted that there is a standing excuse by the officials that no government staff wants to serve here. In such a situation, it is absolutely unconstitutional to leave the poor people to their fate. As the District Magistrate, you have a key role and responsibility to post doctors and nurses on special duties; you cannot ignore or sit back with the difficulties of the people, which is a life and death concern for them.
First, I have requested the CMOH many a times and met him personally and pursued vigorously for urgent help and now I am writing this letter to you for immediate actions for saving lives as it seems, the CMOH is helpless and not able to act promptly.
The following need your urgent actions:
- Order to be issued to doctor and pharmacist for residential duty. If they do not follow the rule book, please penalize and take punitive action to mark a deterrance.
- Post at least 3 GNMs for labour room without waiting for fresh appointments. There are congregations of staff at convenient locations. Please recast/reshuffle them for urgent medical needs.
- Post 4 GDA as per rule of PHC
- Post 1 Sweeper
- Place an ambulance (Surface transport and boat). Madam Chief Minister has flagged off many ambulances from the MPLAD Scheme on 23rd January and some of them have been placed under your disposal. Take cognizance of the critical need and the geographical hardship of the area and place these ambulances without any further delay.
- Empanel Matrijan vehicles urgently through continuous motivational dialogues with owners of vehicles. I held one such motivational dialogue and made some of them agree in front of the BMOH.
- Set up a telephone control room for medical helpline services
- Urgently install power supply to PHC. Wiring has been done but supply not commenced. The Health department has not cared to even apply and stealing electricity.
- Set up a district level monitoring committee for checking attendance of staff and monitoring the health care of Bhootni.
- Utilize all rooms of PHC
- Make staff quarters functional and utilise.
- Supply essential medicines including snake bite and burns.
- Hold weekly medical camps by bringing doctors from private sector to bridge the service deficit. This may be done as part of Govt-Public Cooperation drive, as per the guidelines of the Planning Commission.
- Invite and Involve district level credible and large-scale NGOs such as Rotary Club, Lions Club, R K Mission, Red Cross and Bharat Seva Ashram and others for providing temporary services to bridge the gaps. Hold urgent meetings with NGOs.
- Set up a minimal diagnostic centre with X-Ray and Ultra Sound
- Set up TB Sputum test facility, at least
- Bring in the NACO programs.
- Follow GOI and WHO guidelines on Public Health.
Please note that in a statement made by Chief Minister Hon’ble Mamata Banerjee, in the Facebook dated 4th January 2014, she said,”I am very happy to share with all of you a landmark decision. Essential medicines and available diagnostic services will now be provided free of cost to rural people in government run health centres and hospitals.” I shall be grateful and making this appeal on behalf of the illiterate and voiceless people of Bhootni to restore Madam Chief Minister’s dignity of words urgently.
I am writing this as a responsible citizen of free and independent India. Malda is my home district. As you know, I have served in many apex policy advisory positions in various departments of the Government of India. I also worked as a journalist with the Times of India, Delhi. Besides, I rescued and rehabilitated thousands of homeless and destitute citizens in my personal capacity for nearly two decades.
I am shocked and surprised to see the despicable health services in villages of Bhootni. In other words, Bhootni area does not have even minimal health services despite the presence of Union Health Minister of State and the State Social Welfare Minister. In fact, people of Bhootni are enraged and very upset. They feel, no one is by their side in true sense of the term. Such a situation calls for your urgent attention.
Therefore, I am making a very personal appeal on moral and humanitarian grounds for the welfare of the population of Bhootni. Please act urgently as the matter is concerning health and life of people. Neglecting the health needs would mean curbing people’s right to life, as enshrined in the Constitution of India, as people’s fundamental right.
I am hoping that you will act promptly and keep me posted on the happenings and your actions thereof.
(SREERUPA MITRA CHAUDHURY)
Copy for kind information and action to:
- Mr. Krishnendu Narayan Chaudhury, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of West Bengal (MIC, Malda)
- Mrs. Sabitri Mitra, Hon’ble Minister of Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal (MIC, Malda)
- Mr. Gautam Sanyal, Principal Secretary to Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal
- Mr. Sanjay Mitra, Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal
- Principal Secretary, Health, Government of West Bengal
- Director, Health Services, Government of West Bengal
- CMOH, Malda District
- Superintendent of Police, Malda
- Mr. Afsar Ali, resident of Bhootni