In Madhya Pradesh's Gandhwani, people await female doctors, health infrastructure; Opposition blames BJP for bias

Indore: Gandhwani, an Assembly constituency held by the Congress, is dominated by female voters. However, the irony is that Gandhwani has no female doctors due to which women have to travel several kilometres for basic health care.

Gandhwani and Kukshi are the Congress' constituencies in Dhar district, in which the remaining constituencies namely Dhar, Manawar, Badnawar, Sardarpur and Dharampuri belong to the BJP. These constituencies have female doctors. The community health centre (CHC) in Kukshi has a female doctor, but due to lack of facilities, most of the patients are often referred to other hospitals.

“Four blocks — Bagh, Dahi, Kukshi and Nisarpur — fall under the Kukshi tehsil and I am the only female doctor here. I am on duty round-the-clock. I am also responsible for the administrative works like going to court for hearings and making MLCs,” said Dr Rajkumari Devda, a gynaecologist, posted at the Kukshi CHC.

File image of Kikshi civil hospital

File image of Kukshi civil hospital in Madhya Pradesh. Karishma S/

According to Dr Devda, due to lack of basic facilities like sonography machines, or an ICU, local patients suffering serious health problems are referred to Barwani district hospital, 30 kilometres from Kukshi.

“Dhar is at least 100 km from Kukshi, so we refer the patients to Barwani district,” she said.

According to the Election Commission, there are over 1.1 lakh female voters in Gandhwani, constituting 49.8% of the total voters in the constituency.

Alleging step-motherly treatment towards their Assembly constituency by the state government, the Congress leader from Gandhwani, Umang Singhar, claims that the situation is better in other constituencies where BJP is in power. He claims that the medical facilities for women in Manawar, a constituency reserved for the scheduled tribe and is represented by BJP’s Ranjana Baghel, is much better as compared to Gandhwani and Kukshi.

Singhar says that he had announced Rs 1 lakh salary per month to any female doctor who was willing to come to Gandhwani CHC. He says that since he is from the Opposition party, he has suffered injustice at the hands of the state government.

“The state government had said that it was unable to send a female doctor because of dearth of female doctors in the state,” he said.

Women in this constituency are reluctant to approach a doctor due to the tedious travels they would have to undertake.

“We have to travel to Barwani, Indore or Dhar even if some minor health problems develop. There is not a single female doctor here. Most of the women don’t go to the doctors as they don’t want to travel such long distance and this affects their health adversely. They go to the other districts for treatment only when the condition becomes very serious,” said Anita Devi, 55, who had to travel to Indore from Gandhwani when she had suffered urinary tract infection (UTI) a few months ago.

Bhanwari Bai, another resident of the area, claimed that the pregnant women always ensured travel arrangements in advance of their delivery date.

“There is a dearth of female doctors in the entire district. Though we have at least one female doctor in Manawar and Kukshi, the one who was posted in Gandhwani resigned a year ago. After that, the post has been lying vacant. We had sent a letter to the government asking for a doctor in Gandhwani and are hoping that it may get filled soon,” said R C Panika, chief medical officer, Dhar.

He added that female doctors are not interested to serve in remote areas like Gandhwani due to lack of facilities here. They prefer districts and towns as compared to tribal areas.

Gynaecologist Dr Monika Chouhan who is posted in Manawar, claimed, “Because of the dearth of female doctors, we get burdened with cases from these areas. We get hundreds of referrals from Umarband, Gandhwani and Bakaner every day for which we have to work extra hours.”

This is primarily because female doctors prefer to work in urban areas. Since Chouhan is from Manawar, it was not difficult for her to adjust there. According to her, the main reason why no female doctor is ready to come to Gandhwani is because of it is located in a very remote place.

The situation is similar in the Kukshi Assembly constituency which belongs to the Congress. There is only one female doctor in this constituency. In the absence of advance health care facilities, patients have to be referred to other districts.

Congress legislator from Kukshi, Surendra Singh Baghel, claimed that a few months before the 2013 Assembly polls, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced the construction of a civil hospital in Kukshi. However, the hospital is yet to become a reality even after five years.

“As soon as I became the MLA from this constituency in 2013, the construction of the hospital was put on the back burner,” he alleged.

“The civil hospital building is almost ready but it will take time to start. We also don't have any doctor of medicine (MD) here which is a big problem,” Dr Devda said.

Baghel claimed that only improving the infrastructure in the area would not help the constituency, unless doctors are ready to work in such areas.

However, Dr Raj Barfa, BJP president in Dhar, claims that these are false allegations and a female doctor has been working in Kukshi for several years.

“The CHC in Kukshi has been given the status of a civil hospital, which is in its completion stage. The civil hospital will have 90 beds and advanced machinery needed for treatment. Gandhwani doesn’t have a female doctor because she was transferred recently,” he said.

In Jhabua and Alirajpur districts as well, women constitute over 49 percent of voters and issues concerned with the fairer sex are likely to emerge as one of the rallying points in upcoming polls. While districts have many pressing issues regarding health, hygiene and nutrition, safety of women and liquor ban are being discussed increasingly with polls drawing closer.

Electorate ratio in two Congress-ruled constituencies in Dhar
Constituency Male Female Total MLA
Gandhwani 110354 108686 219086 Umang Singhar
Kukshi 111852 110810 222694 Surendra Singh Baghel

Source: Election Commission of India

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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2018 19:10 PM

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