A Journey of Ten Thousand Meters

Capstone Health Sirwar Taluk

Murkigudda is a village located in Sirwar taluk of Raichur district in Karnataka. It is 44 km away from the district headquarters, in Raichur. The village has a total population of 1,145 people according to the 2011 Census.

There are no hospitals or sub-centers in and around the village. Villagers need to travel 8-10 km to reach the nearest Primary Health Centre (PHC), and further 44 km to reach the Community Health Centre (CHC). 

Devi Bai who is a resident of the village and works at Anganvadi center in Murkigudda village narrated her experience, “My sister in law was eight months of pregnancy. We called an ambulance, but it said that it will come after 2-3 hours so we didn’t have any option but to take her in the auto. The roads of the village are very bumpy because of that her condition got worse. But we did take her to the PHC nearby which is 8-9km away from the village. The child got delivered but the child didn’t cry after the birth and got a fever. The doctor advised us to take the child to Raichur’s government hospital (CHC) which is 44 km away, but on the way, the child died”.

Many villagers have lost their lives during their journey to Sirwar. There is also no private clinic or doctor in or around the village. If once a villager falls sick or ill, they have no treatment apart from going around 9 km from the village. 

An article in Business Economics says that “In India, 75% of the healthcare infrastructure is concentrated in urban areas where only 27% of the total Indian population is living. The remaining 73% of the country’s population is lacking proper primary healthcare facilities”. In addition to that, a report in KPMG says, “74% of Indian doctors are catering to the needs of the urban population of India.”

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data shows less than half the households approached government medical institutions. Poor healthcare facilities, absence of PHC’s nearby and long waiting time are common factors at PHCs and Government Hospital. 

As per another report, “It has been seen only 11% sub-centers, 13% PHCs and 16% CHCs meet the Indian Public Health Standards”.

The scenario of the village has not changed in the last 10 years, Devi Bai added “My father Dhakapa had died because of chest pain 10 years ago. We had called an ambulance but the ambulance didn’t come. We lifted him with our hands and walked but he died.”

She added, “when ambulance doesn’t come uphill because of bad roads so we have to lift the patient in our hands and walk till the vehicles, this is the only way in which we can go or we have to die on road itself”. 

Panchayat official, Amir Ali said “All the 5 villages on the hilltop don’t have any medical facilities. Villagers need to travel 8-9 km. But the villagers have not requested for the medical facilities, once they do it even we will request the government for medical camps and for building at least one PHC in the village”.       

There are no changes in recent times even after policies like Ayushman Bharat Yojana. Even though the recent health allocation for this financial year saw an increase of 12% from the previous year, yet PHCs at Sirwar lacks oxygen tanks and emergency drugs. The majority of the times during emergency villagers are asked to go Raichur for treatment. Every year people in the village die because they don’t have enough money and strength to travel Sirwar or Raichur. 

There is an increase of 12% in the healthcare budget 2020-21 from the previous year.

Dr.B.P.Singh who runs an NGO named ‘Veterans Forum for Transparency in Public Life’ and has also worked with the World Health Organization for rural sector healthcare development in India says, “Infrastructure should be strengthened. The Government should provide enough funds to Gram Panchayat to construct PHC’s and should allow them to make independent decisions for villagers.”

The journey of getting proper healthcare for the villagers in Murkigudda seems to be a distant reality. In the past several decades, the villagers have been facing issues in seeking proper healthcare. For them, hospitals are rarely spoken and seen things. And as they cannot afford the expensive treatment, they prefer dying in isolation itself. 

Will, there ever be proper access to healthcare remains a question.


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