CHINIOT - Eight Suzuki Ravi vans, given to Health Department for the supervision of Lady Health Workers [LHWs], have been rusting and damaging under open sky at CEO Office's compound since 2009.

It is to be noted that Chiniot was upgraded from tehsil to district on July1, 2009 and nine vehicles were handed over to Chiniot from its parent district Jhang under the project "Integrated Maternal and Newborn Child Health and Nutrition Program". But they have not been utilized since then.

Under "Integrated Maternal and Newborn Child Health and Nutrition Program" of Health Department, these vehicles were to be utilized by the Lady Health Supervisors [LHS] based at Basic Health Units [BHU] at each Union Council [UC] of the district to supervise official activities of the LHWs. The vehicles were also to be used for providing healthcare to pregnant and lactating women at their doorstep.

According to a source of Health Department, there are 418 LHWs in the district working under the supervision of 22 LHS. Each LHS has to supervise LHWs working in 15 to 20. A total of 19 LHS have vehicle and driver but three do not.

Fatima Bibi, LHS at BHU Chak 221/JB, told The Nation that it was very difficult to move to 20 villages to supervise the work of LHWs. She demanded Health Department should get these vehicles repaired and provide to them so that they could perform their functions in a better way.

Dr Muhammad Arshid, District Coordinator of Integrated Program, told The Nation that these vehicles were of 1996 model and his predecessor had written to Program Director, Lahore to declare these vehicles as "Condemned" last year and reminded some months ago but no reply was given.

He added that there were three LHS without vehicle while seven posts of LHS were vacant. "If the vacant posts are filled, we'll need 10 more vehicles which we can't afford," he stated.

Chiniot Deputy Commissioner Rai Manzoor Nasir, who is also administrator of District Health Authority, told The Nation that he had sought report from finance department for allocation of funds for repair to vehicles.

He added that he had also sought expert opinion whether these vehicles were repairable or not. "Prompt action will be taken after getting report on financial position and health of these rusting vehicles," he assured.