Medicines from the clinics are being smuggled into local pharmacies, locals allege
With a view to making health care facilities easily accessible for the disadvantaged people of Chapainawabganj, the government has established 184 community clinics in the district.
Of the clinics, at least, 80 to 84 community clinics were set up in char areas (river basins) of Sadar and Shibganj upazila alone, according to sources.
However, the community clinics of the char areas in the district are plagued by a myriad of problems, including poor service, shortage of medicines, and so on.
The clinics are not living up to the objectives of the government, and are depriving locals of proper healthcare services for some time now, locals said.
Recently, our correspondent visited several clinics of Islampur, Devi Nagar, Sundarnagar, and Charbaghdanga unions in Sadar upazila and spoke to locals and patients there.
Locals alleged the community clinics have been failing to provide them with services which are up to the mark.
Most of the community clinics, which are supposed to provide services six days a week from 9 am to 3pm, remain under lock and key. Patients are not provided with medicines properly and the community healthcare providers are even negligent about providing services to the patients, they added.
Afan Ali, a resident of Charbaghdanga union, said healthcare providers come at 11 am and leave the clinics at 12 pm. As a result, patients are forced to return home without receiving treatment.
"There is no one to take care of these problems,'' he added.
Our correspondent reached Goraipara community clinic of Charbaghdanga union after 1pm and found the clinic closed, although it was supposed to be open till 3pm.
Afterwards, the correspondent spoke to healthcare provider Kulsum Begum over the phone and asked for the reason of closure.
Kulsum said she closed the clinic as she was feeling unwell. When asked whether she had notified the higher authorities of the illness, Kulsum did not provide any satisfactory reply.
Locals of Islampur union complained the clinics are supposed to dispense 30 kinds of medicine, but patients are being given only three to four kinds, while they have to buy the rest of the medicines from the local markets.
Tanjila Khatun, who came to the Terorshia community clinic with her child who was suffering from cough and cold, said: "We cannot afford medicines from the market as we are poor. But the clinic only gave us half a bottle of syrup.
"I even had to pay fees for the medicine." she added.
Moslema, another patient at the clinic, spoke of having a similar experience.
She said: "We were supposed to get medicines free of cost, but nowadays, we are not given the medicines properly and we need to pay."
Medicines being smuggled into local markets
Seeking anonymity, some locals and patients of Sadar upazila said medicines from the clinics are being smuggled into the local markets and pharmacies.
Medicines with government seals are found in local markets and pharmacies, they added.
However, health care providers denied the allegations.
Health care providers Jannatun Nesa and Nafisa Nur Sushma of community clinics in Terororshia and Joynal Abedin areas claimed there are currently 27 kinds of medicines in the clinic, and they are facing problems in providing medicines to patients as the supply of medicine is low in comparison to the demand.
Our correspondent met with District Civil Surgeon Dr Jahid Nazrul Chowdhury to get his take on the whole matter.
Acknowledging the situation, he said: "We cannot monitor the clinics in the char areas regularly."
When asked about the negligence of health care providers, Dr Jahid said: "Health care providers, appointed in the clinics, are local, but we heard some of them are living in the town.
For this reason, the people are not getting proper services."
He also told the correspondent to provide specific information to law enforcement agencies if anyone is involved in medicine smuggling into local markets and pharmacies.
"I, along with the supervision team of the health department, will look into the matter. All problems will be solved very soon," he added.