RAWALPINDI: Amid high hopes from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) led-Punjab provincial government, the Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid is facing a huge challenge to operationalise 82 percent non-operational state-run dispensaries in Rawalpindi. According to officials, 41 out of 48 government run dispensaries established in the rural areas of Rawalpindi are functioning without a qualified doctor as the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) government badly failed to appoint doctors in these rural health centres. The situation is not much different in the health centres situated in the urban areas as only four doctors are available for the 16 state run dispensaries of Rawal Town.According to official data, 82 percent dispensaries are almost non-functional due to the shortage of doctors, medicines and other health facilities. Only 11 doctors are available for the 64 dispensaries of Rawalpindi. Despite the tall claims by the previous PML-N regime, 144 out of 224 sanctioned posts for Potohar Town and 98 out of 168 sanctioned posts for Rawal Town are still vacant.The Potohar Town of Rawalpindi comprised of rural areas ie Kotli Sattian, Kahota, Murree and Gujjar Khan. Whereas, these state run dispensaries are the only source of medical treatment for the residence, however, due to the negligence of higher authorities, these dispensaries are also non-functional from many years, senior officer of health department said, wishing not to be named. According to the officials of health department, posts at these dispensaries including doctors and other staff members were declared as dying cadre posts, as not a single appointment has been made during last the 16 years, so with the retirement of old staff the posts in these dispensaries fell vacant, resulting in the worsen health crisis.A senior official wishing anonymity said, not a single rupee was allocated for these dispensaries during the last two financial years, however this year, only Rs 1 million were allocated for the purchase of medicines with the instruction to not use more than 75 percent of the allocated budget. Only Rs 0.75 million for 64 health units is like peanuts, making it difficult for these dispensaries to cope with the growing health hazards, he maintained.Official says, in the past, more than 200 patients were visiting each dispensary for medical treatment, and now these numbers have dropped to four or five patients daily. Due to the shortage of medicines, laboratories and others facilities in these health units, these patients are compelled to go to allied hospitals of the district, which has increased load on these hospitals.Health Authority Chief Executive Officer Khalid Mahmood, while talking exclusively to Daily Times said the administrative control of these dispensaries was transferred from local government department to the health department without any financial resources and proper legislation.“Some doctors have approached the court regarding this issue and the matter is pending there. However, the current government is taking serious steps in this regard. Hopefully, the PTI led provincial government will take some serious decisions to make these dispensaries operational,” he maintained.Published in Daily Times, September 11th 2018.