Follow by Email

Monday, October 1, 2012

The power of dialogue – Active Citizens facilitate health care in Mehmood Kot

As the 4-day Active Citizens workshop neared its end and the time came to propose a social action project to help resolve an issue that his community was facing, Talha Hassan spent no time in picking health care. Mehmood Kot is a small town in the Multan district with one Basic Health Unit (BHU) facility for the provision of health care to the community members at a low cost.

A modest affair

Mehmood Kot's Basic Health Unit is a modest affair with limited staff and a small dispensary. The bigger medical facility, the District Health Unit (DHU) is a considerable distance away. There are a number of private clinics in the town though which treat the bulk of the medical cases.

Over the years Talha noticed that the dispensary had assumed a more symbolic role a functional one: on some days the medical staff did not show up, and when they did their work hours were erratic. As a result most of the townspeople had no choice but to consult doctors running private clinics. 

This is a costlier option for the residents of Mehmood Kot, most of who depend on a modest source of income to get them through the month.

Hence over the years the utility of the Basic Health Unit was reduced to a place where cheap medicine could be bought.

Shaking things up

Talha and his youth group resolved to change this perception of their community. They wanted members of the community to receive the care they deserved at the BHU. And so they started a two pronged dialogue campaign: they met with community members in a door-to-door campaign to talk about the provision of their basic health rights; and they met the health care staff at the BHU to discuss professional duties that they were neglecting.

In this way the young Active Citizens were successful in starting a dialogue between the residents of Mehmood Kot and the health care staff at the BHU. The result of these meetings was that the health care staff resolved to fulfil their duties and to extend all possible help to the townspeople.    

Keeping Score

To make sure that the BHU staff would make good on their promise and things would not slip back to a similar situation Talha’s youth group formed a committee to monitor the work of the health care staff voluntarily. This committee comprised of the Imam of a local mosque, a social and political activist, and two Active Citizens from Talha’s youth group.

This committee pays regular visits to the Basic Health Unit and they report much improved staff attendance.