The effects of drought have rippled beyond water scarcity in Marathwada where villagers are now grappling with health problems in waterless public health centers (PHCs). A survey done by Jaganyachya Hakakch Andolan (JHA) in Beed, Latur, Solapur and Usmanabad found several PHCs functioning without adequate medicines and water.
Kastura Deshmukh in Beed suffered loose motions due to poor quality of potable water. When her health worsened due to severe heat, her nephew Sumant Deshmukh took her to Shirsala PHC, Beed, for treatment. “There was no ORS. A lot of villagers are falling ill due to drinking water supply and stocks are over at sub-centres,” said Deshmukh. He finally took his aunt to a private hospital, spending Rs 250 over a saline drip and ORS sachet.
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According to social activist Baliram Deshmukh, water scarcity has led to health problems such as stomach infection, dysentery, diarrhoea, kidney stone and body pain among villagers in Beed and Latur. “The increase in demand has led to shortage of paracetamol. In Shirsala PHC, there are no paracetamols, no syrups for children. Additional stock has not yet arrived,” he said.
Apart from medicine shortage, Jha alleged that vaccinations for newborns and pregnant women have also been stopped since March in Aurangpur, Beed.
According to Dr B K Devangare, medical officer at Shirur Anantpal PHC, Latur, water supply consists of one tanker for one week which is inadequate for over 10 patients visiting every day . Like Shirur, PHCs in Mohekar, Shirsala and Limbaganesh are also functioning with minimum water supply. “Surgeries such as sterilisation have stopped for the last three months,” said Dhanajeet Acharya, another social worker who visited PHCs in Beed. In Shelgaon village in Usmanabad, the sterilisation procedures have stopped for the last three months.
“There is no water to conduct surgeries unless it is a critical case. Most patients are being referred to tertiary centers where water supply is better than rural hospitals and PHCs,” said Dr Abhijeet More, attached with Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan.