For most of the 20,000-odd residents of Kannampalayam Town Panchayat, any health emergency means an 18-kilomtere trip undertaken in the hope that by the time they make it to Sulur Government Hospital, it will not be too late.
They are also not helped by the fact that Government buses to Sulur via Tiruchi Road are few and far between.
The residents’ fight to avoid such predicaments by bringing a primary health centre to their locality has been going on for nearly 18 years now, says P. Mounaswamy, Sulur Union Committee secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI) who was the president of Kannampalayam Town Panchayat from 1995 to 2011.
Despite having been part of a constituency that had sent ministers and ruling party MLAs to the Legislature and the repeated recommendations of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Petitions Committee, this demand remains unfulfilled.
He recalls this demand arising first in 1995 when steps were initiated to upgrade the Sulur PHC to a Government Hospital. As such, residents of Kannampalayam petitioned the Government to allocate the Sulur PHC to their area after the GH had come up.
The Government had asked the residents to pay the mandatory Rs. 10,000 for the PHC, a sum that was raised in less then a month’s time and a piece of land was also identified for the purpose. However, even though the Sulur PHC was eventually upgraded to a Government Hospital, no new PHC was constructed and the three sub-centres of the erstwhile Sulur PHC were merged with the new GH.
He says the Petitions Committee had sent its recommendations in favour of a PHC at Kannampalayam thrice to the Department of Public Health, but to no avail.
The Government norms, Mr. Mounaswamy says, mandated that a PHC must be established for every 30,000 residents. Sulur taluk, which includes Kannampalayam Town Panchayat, has a population of two lakh. In place of the mandatory six PHCs, there are only three at present. “At the very least, the numbers could be taken to four through the Kannampalayam PHC in the upcoming Budget session. The CPI MLAs from the district will raise this issue when the budgetary demand for Health Department comes up,” he adds.