Despite the statements of the authorities that rural healthcare centers were reorganised into family polyclinics in Uzbekistan, there is an acute shortage of medical personnel in remote villages, and many rural healthcare centers are in a miserable condition.
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Remote rural districts residents complain that it is impossible to get quality healthcare services in their villages because of the poor conditions in rural health centers. Due to the lack of appropriate conditions, some rural health centers were closed and relocated to other buildings.
For example, the health center named after N.Mirzaev in Jaloyir mahalla of Kumkurgan district of Surxondaryo region provides medical services to 10,876 people from Jaloyir, Uyas, Nurli Dier and Ibrat mahallas.
32 employees work in this rural health center; three of them are doctors with higher education. The rural health center does not own a building. It was located in the Kumkurgan Professional College of the Oil and Gas Industry. However, the building is not adapted for providing medical services to the population. People complain that the rooms are very cold, there is no heating, gas, sanitary and hygienic standards are not followed, and the testing laboratory does not work.
“People from our district suffer from it. It is very sad. If you enter the doctor’s office, you will see how cold it is. Winter is coming. How will people visit the doctor in winter? It is very cold. I do not understand why the health center was located in the college building?” says the Jaloyir mahalla resident Agniya Juraeva, 83.
The rural family polyclinic No. 32 of Kumkurgan district is located in Bobo Lochin mahalla and works for 16,390 people from mahallas of Yangi Avlod, the 5th anniversary of Uzbekistan, Istiqlol and Bobo Lochin. The conditions here are even worse than in the previously mentioned healthcare center. Built in the early 90s of the last century, the building fell into disrepair.
The rural family polyclinic No. 33 of Kumkurgan district is located in Bobotog mahalla. 10 employees of this polyclinic work for 6,733 people from the mahallas of Yangi Avlod, the 5th anniversary of Uzbekistan, Istiqlol and Bobotog. It also lacks proper conditions for the provision of medical services to the population. The building was constructed long before independence, it also fell into disrepair.
The building of the rural health center in the Yangier mahalla of Kumkurgan district was constructed in 1975. The conditions for the medical personnel’s work and patient care in the building do comply with the modern requirements. This center provides medical services to 18 thousand residents of Yangier, Boston, Gulistan, Mustakillik mahallas.
The rural health center in Chakirli mahalla of Kumkurgan district is located in a building constructed in 1965. It provides medical services to 10,000 people living in five mahallas.
It is not that the authorities are inactive. The administration of the Kumkurgan district informed CABAR.asia about the work on improvement of the conditions in rural polyclinics. In accordance with the provided data, this year, the administration spent 863.4.0 million soms ($83,331.7) on repairs and maintenance of healthcare institutions, purchase of equipment and other needs. About the same amount of money is planned to be allocated until the end of the year, the work is ongoing. However, there are still many similar health centers in the Surxondaryo region.
In October 2020, during the discussion of the 9-month report of the State Program for Improving Healthcare Services for the Population in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, the ex-Minister of Health Alisher Shodmonov stated that the government intends to reopen more than 700 rural healthcare centers across the country.
“Considering the addresses of the population and the results of the regional research, more than 700 rural healthcare centers across the country will be reopened,” he said.
The problem of healthcare services provision to rural residents were especially acute during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Surxondaryo region residents, they had to travel to the regional center Termez to test for COVID-19.
“The rural health centers did not have enough medical staff and beds, there were no medicines. People had to wait a long time outside or travel very far to receive prescriptions for treatment from doctors. Now, the situation is a little better. Each district has testing laboratories. In each district, special hospitals were allocated for COVID patients. However, at the very beginning, the situation was very difficult. Still, the problems in rural healthcare centers remain unresolved,” said Surxondaryo region resident Doniyor Azizov.