Upgrade facilities at additional PHC: Tribal population

A view of the additional Primary Healthcare Centre at Top Sengatupatti.  


The tribal population living atop Pachamalai Hills look for upgrade of facilities at the additional Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) located in Top Sengattupatti. The Public Works Department has a role to play, they say.

The additional PHC is attached to the Uppiliyapuram PHC, where the doctors refer most patients, even for something as basic as a blood test. The trip takes over an hour and requires travelling through hilly terrain and 11 hairpin bends. "The additional PHC has facilities for childbirth and emergency treatment. But, for blood tests and other care, the patient is referred to Uppiliyapuram," a resident said.

Speaking to The Hindu, Sampath Kumar, Medical Officer Incharge, said that the PHC had the capacity to admit three patients. However, all three beds were in the labour ward. "Regardless of what treatment the patient requires, they need to be admitted in the labour ward as it is only there that we have space for beds. More often than not, it is occupied by pregnant women in labour, in which case the other patients suffer," he said.

The additional PHC at Top Sengattupatti PHC also serves villages on the hills under the jurisdiction of Salem district. "Those under jurisdiction of Salem administration would otherwise have to travel an additional 22 kilometres to a PHC pertaining in their district," Dr. Sampath said.

In the second wave of the pandemic that has hit villages, the importance of these centres has multiplied manifold. PHCs have been central to Covid-19 management in the state and are crucial in testing and vaccinating people. However, the PHC did not have a separate place to admit or isolate patients either. There is no lab technician or equipment either. "Even for simple tests such as blood cell count, which is important to detect and treat dengue, the patient has to travel to Uppiliyapuram," a staff member said.

"We have submitted a written proposal to the Public Works Department to construct a separate maternity block for us. Within the block, we can have a laboratory, labour room, wards, and also a chamber for the medical officer and for the Village Health Nurses," he said.

The building currently being utilised as a labour ward has six rooms, with attached bathrooms. Three of the six rooms are being used as rooms by staff. "The staff do not have quarters but the amount to be deducted as rent continues to be deducted from their salaries," a staff of the PHC said. Staff quarters for the nurses, pharmacist and health inspector lies in a dilapidated condition and has been in disuse for over five years. Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, the staff members had to travel from Thuraiyur to Top Sengattupatti on their own as even bus services were suspended. "Had there been adequate facilities, we would have stayed here and served the people," another staff nurse said.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 10:08:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/upgrade-facilities-at-additional-phc-tribal-population/article35543137.ece

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