ISLAMABAD-Ministry of National Health Services failed to fill several vacant posts of medical professionals in the health department catering rural population of the city, official said on Thursday.

According to documents available with The Nation, the rural health centres (RHCs), basic health units (BHUs) and dispensaries were facing shortage of 18 medical officers and 36 other positions.

The official said that the city’s major hospitals including PIMS and Polyclinic hospitals were overburden with patients’ influx, the primary health centres of the city were also facing shortage of the staff.

The government had announced strengthening infrastructure of the primary healthcare system in the city to provide health facilities to rural population and lessen the burden on tertiary hospitals.

The official said that despite bringing the health system under ministry of NHS, the government in more than a year had not filled the vacant posts of medical professionals in RHCs and BHUs.

As per the documents, there are three RHCs, 15 BHUs and a dispensary functional in the territory of the federal city. The RHCs are established in areas of Barakahu, Tarlai and Sihala.

Documents said that there are only 32 sanctioned posts of medical officers/women medical officers in the health department out of which 18 posts of medical officers/women officers are lying vacant. Two medical officers are performing duties at the head office; one medical officer is on LPR leave, whereas two medical officers are wilfully absent from duties since long.

Similarly, 36 posts of different categories of staff including LHVs and paramedical staff are vacant and were advertised in the month of June.

Documents also said that there are only 4 ambulances for the rural health department and are stationed at Tarlai, Barakahu and Sihala to shift patients in emergency cases.

The official said that the primary responsibility of the rural health department was to provide preventive and curative health services to rural population of ICT.

While the health system also works to safeguard the communities of emerging diseases like dengue fever, bird flu, swine flu, chickunguniya and the re-emerging communicable diseases like TB, measles, pneumonia and other vaccine preventable diseases.

“However, the health system is facing shortage of staff to control such diseases,” he said.

The RHCs and BHUs are bound to provide the services of essential medicines, EPI services, integrated management of neonatal and childhood illness, nutrition advices, prenatal and postnatal care, birth preparedness counselling and newborn care.

Documents said that 3 doctors were working at RHC Barakahu, and 3 at Tarlai, while BHUs of Rawat and Shah Allah Ditta had one doctor each.

As per the reply submitted by ministry of NHS in the National Assembly Health Committee, a requisition for filling up 18 clear vacant posts of medical officers/women medical officers on regular basis has been sent to Federal Public Service Commission and 36 posts of different categories has been advertised and recruitment process is in process through recruitment agency.

Spokesperson ministry of NHS Sajid Shah said that government is working to strengthen the primary healthcare system in the city and has collaborated with World Health Organization (WHO) to upgrade the infrastructure.

He also said that five other development schemes are also underway including a 200 bedded hospital to facilitate the rural population with health facilities.

He also said that two new BHUs have been constructed at union councils Kirpa and Tarnol while upgradation and renovation of already established RHCs and BHUs and dispensary is underway.

He also said that vacant posts will be filled and adjusted.