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Chattisgarh's health in the hands of quacks!

Kanker (Chattisgarh), October 22 Chhattisgarh has always been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Rarely do we hear or read in the media of the true plight of the villagers: How do they live? Are the basic facilities like sanitation, education, health and livelihood being looked after? The answer, it seems, is a emphatic "No".

This time the state is facing a major threat to the health of its people. Playing with the lives of unfortunate villagers is a well-known network of quacks who give a damn for the medical fundamentals. And living on the mercy of such quacks are the poor villagers of Chhattisgarh.

Despite every claim of the state government, there is still a serious lack of health services in the tribal and rural regions of the state. There are in all fifty posts awaiting recruitment of health workers, including doctors. Notwithstanding the orders of the administration, Doctors have avoided their duties in rural areas.

The health centres constructed in such regions are of no good to the marginalised communities. Once a week or in fifteen days, employees of the health department come to the Centre for the formality of reporting for work. On the other hand, the private health centres have set exorbitant fees rendering the destitute villagers vulnerable.

Poverty and illness force the villagers to the doors of "Jholachaap Doctors", quacks. These doctors without degrees save them money, time and several unnecessary tantrums of the staff of distant government health centres. They have proved themselves as the God of the destitutes.

Seasonal illness increases the importance of the quacks. When rains block the muddy paths disrupting the access of the villagers to health workers, quacks that operate in the vicinity are the sole source of help. They commute either on bicycles or walk their way to the patients.

Appreciating the efforts of the quacks here does not mean that they are the right choice or they should be promoted in any way. In fact, this makes clearer the state of dilemma the illiterate, unemployed and marginalised community is trapped in.

Quacks are the fake health specialists who have neither an MBBS degree nor any medical experience. They claim to have learnt the "art" by working as a compounder with any city doctor or pharmacist. After gathering handful of knowledge, they head towards backward regions where there is severe lack of awareness. They target areas where even government health services can't reach. And this gives them the authority to treat common fever or a small surgery.

In every Panchayat of Kanker district, North Bastar, there are three to four quacks offering their services to the locals. Some of the doctors have earned so much recognition for their work in the region that they have set up clinics, complete with a shining brass nameplate at the entrance . Patients from far and near visit them.

Not always do they manage to come out safe with their guesswork. Their experiments prove to be fatal in many incidents. One incident refers to the village P.V. 1 of Devpur Panchayat, located 10 km away from Kapsi, Kanker where a young man Praan Krishna (22), suffering from casual fever, died due to sheer negligence of the quack. t is believed that he injected two inoculations to the patient that were well past their expiry date. A young life lost at the cost of two injections!

If statistics are to be believed, this is not an isolated case in the village or in the state. Many such cases have been registered in each Panchayat. Yet, the blind faith of the inhabitants in the "Jholachaps" has not waned. Perhaps they have no option even if it is at the cost of their lives.

A look at the statistics of the Health Department will help to draw a clearer picture of the miserable situation on the ground. The figures shamefully highlight that the number of doctors present in various hospitals of the state is less than half of that required. Officers believe that it is easier to find teachers here as compared to qualified doctors willing to work among the villagers.

Not only hospitals, the state's primary and community health centres are facing acute shortage of doctors as well. In such a situation, those with some financial strength can afford to go to private hospitals but many families who are too poor to even afford one square meal a day, where would they go?

The take of the quacks on the current situation is as interesting as it is insightful, "Even if we are wrong in public opinion, we understand the local environment better than the city doctors. We are well aware of the condition of our patients, an understanding that no college degree can provide. We neither expect anything as in the case of government employees nor rob the patients of their money. With our experience, we offer better treatment," said one of the quacks working in the village.

Under such circumstances, taking necessary initiatives becomes the prime responsibility of the government. Ensuring regular services in the non functional health centres of every village can be one of the first steps. The Charkha Development Communication Network feels that increasing the number of health workers and spreading awareness among the villagers will help the government overcome the problem. An aware community backed by government initiatives will not allow the old quacks to be replaced by new ones. After all they know that their life is more valuable than an expired injection! By Suryakant Devangan ( ANI )

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Oct 22, 2012
Words:937
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