With reports on widespread malnutrition in D.J. Halli following the death of a five-year-old malnourished girl, a group of doctors, students and rights activists gathered for a Sunday health camp in the area.

While the two doctors who led the health camp documented many cases of malnutrition, many residents complained about the lack of quality healthcare. Sylvia Karpagam, a doctor and member of Janarogya Andolan, a public health initiative, said that many residents complained that doctors were often absent and that the PHC, which is required to be open through the week, had no doctor heading the shift. “Many women told us that officials here even demanded cash prior to providing treatment and that it mostly serves as a maternity home only,” Dr. Karpagam said.

Worst of all, the doctor and her team that led a small protest on Sunday noon in front of the PHC, said that medicines were in short supply here. In fact, the medicines inventory, a photograph of which was shared with The Hindu, showed that only 42 of 342 essential medicines were being supplied here and even basic medicines such as ORS for diarrhoea and Crocin for fever were missing from the list.

Paying a high price

In the absence of a decent public alternative, most residents here end up depending on private clinics and paying exorbitant amounts. Siraj, a resident here, says he has never been to the PHC because they neither have the required medicines nor do they bother diagnosing properly.

Denial

When contacted, a Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike health official claimed regular camps were being conducted in the area and denied that the problem was being ignored. The official said that authorities would look into the allegation that doctors were found skipping duty, and the short supply of medicines.

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