Grave state of Maternal Health in Kalat

By: Yousaf Ajab Baloch

Wali Muhammad, lost his young wife when she was struggling to give birth to their first child. Before her dead, it took them a while to understand that the situation was serious. They knew the hospital they were in, the District Head Quarter (DHQ) Kalat, hardly had any gynecologists or nurses.

“There was only one Lady Medical Officer (LMO) who could not deal the case and referred us to Quetta but it was too late and she breathed her last on our way to Quetta,” Wali Mohammad told Balochistan Review.

The lady medical officer on condition of anonymity admitted that the life of the lady and her child’s death could have been prevented, if only there was a gynecologist. Since it was a serious birth case which could only have been solved through a surgical procedure.

“Patients with minor illnesses may be referred to Quetta but the serious patients at gynecology ward and emergency sometimes perish due to non-availability of staff and resources,” she told Balochistan Review.

Kalat’s Wali Muhammad is not the first man who has shouldered his wife’s coffin. A recent report of UN Population Fund (UNFPA) states that a woman dies from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications every 20 minutes in Pakistan, however, in Balochistan the Mother Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) are higher as compared to the other provinces.

The report states, “Majority of Balochistan’s eight million inhabitants have only limited access to adequate health care; the situation is far worse.”

Kalat city is the districts headquarter of the Kalat, roughly located in the center of Balochistan with the population of more than 300000 where 80.79 % of the population lives in rural areas. People in Kalat city and in the far-flung areas confront serious health problems due to the lack of health facilities, mainly, when it comes to presence of gynecologists in District Head Quarter (DHQ) hospital.

Not only the patients and common people complain about lack of required doctors but also the concerned officials admit dearth of facilities and staff as well. Dr. Gansham, the Medical Superintendent (MS) at DHQ Kalat District Head Quarters (DHQ) hospital confronts significant shortage of clinical staff besides other basic facilities.

“We do not have any gynecologist for more than fifteen years in (DHQ) hospital Kalat. We just rely on the services of LHVs and midwives and LMOs in the delivery cases,” Dr. Gansham told Balochistan Review.

According Medical Superintendent Kalat, out of 44 sanctioned posts of doctors and other medical staff members in (DHQ) hospital Kalat, more than 32 lay vacant. “Currently we have only two lady medical officers but no gynecologists which is very alarming,” he told Balochistan Review.

District Health Officer Dr. Naseem Langove expressed helplessness having no gynecologists and lack of staff at DHQ. “The doctors are appointed but they are soon transferred having support from politicians and bureaucracy and here the lack of doctors and other staff creates problems for the common people.” Dr. Naseem added.

Most of the doctors prefer working in Quetta or big cities in Balochistan. Even maximum number of the doctors and LHVs refuse to serve in remote areas of Balochistan and it deteriorates the situation.

Though government of Balochistan claims to have provided gynecologist, anesthesiologist and pediatrician to most of the districts headquarter hospitals across the province in order to control MMR. Three nursing colleges in Khuzdar, Turbat and Loralai districts are said to equip professional health workers to fulfill the needs for maternal health; however, the continuous high rates of maternal mortality prove no solid development in Balochistan.

There are a large number of doctors in different specialties who were selected on district quota in BMC, however after doing FCPS, now they prefer living and performing jobs in Quetta city. A Quetta based female doctor (who basically belongs to Kalat district) on condition of anonymity told Balochistan Review, “We are unable to go back to our home districts for jobs. There is lack of accommodation facilities from the health department as well as currently our children are enrolled in schools in Quetta. In case of our appointment in our home district we will not be able to educate our children with limited opportunities available.”

District Health Officer Dr. Naseem Langove told Balochistan Review, “In district Kalat among 33 positions of Medical officers only one is filled, and the rest remain vacant. “We demanded government of Balochistan to transfer back all doctors to their home districts so that we can cope with shortage of specialists and reduces the cause which are life threatening such as maternal mortalities.”

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