Salcete’s countryside is reverberating with demands for improved health services and additional health centres with each passing day, with the existing set up falling short of the growing requirements and the people calling for a review of the facilities, reports Guilherme Almeida
Salcete’s coastal belt – spanning from Cavelossim to Carmona, Varca, Benaulim, Colva, Betalbatim and Majorda – does not have a single full-fledged primary or community health centre. Apart from the sub-health centres dotting the coastal belt, major areas along the coast are covered by the primary health centre located at Cansaulim, while the southern part comes under the jurisdiction of the Chinchinim Primary Centre.
It is not uncommon to hear citizens inhabiting the coastal belt demanding full-fledged primary health centres along Salcete’s coastline – be it in Colva or Benaulim.
Says Benaulim MLA Caitu Silva: “There’s a long pending demand for a full-fledged health centre in my constituency. Presently, villages in my constituency come under the Cansaulim and Chinchinim primary health centres. I have requested the government to set up a Primary Health Centre at Colva on a priority basis”
The situation is no better across the River Sal in Navelim constituency. Demands for Primary Health Centre have poured in from the villages of Rumdamol and Davorlim. Navelim villagers have put forth their demand for the upgradation of the sub-health centre into primary health centre. In fact, villages in the Navelim constituency come under the Primary Health Centre at Curtorim. Says Fisheries Minister and Navelim MLA Avertano Furtado: There’s an urgent need to set up a health centre in the Rumdamol Housing Board area. Villages of Davorlim have also demanded a health centre at the government land acquired for the irrigation canal. Besides, there’s a strong demand for the upgradation of the sub-centre at Navelim village”.
Consumer rights activist and GOACAN Convenor Roland Martins has underlined the need to review the health centres and health facilities in rural Salcete and across the state. “Cuncolim is an urban town with a municipal council, but the town still comes under the Primary Health Centre, Balli in Quepem taluka. Villages like Velim also come under the Balli health Centre. This health centre is overburdened and cannot cope up with the work load”.
Citing an instance, he said “The Cutbona fishing jetty is the home for over 5,000 migrant workers employed on the fishing vessels. Similarly, the Cuncolim Industrial Estate houses thousands of migrant workers. Officials of the Balli Primary Health Centre are hard pressed to make their presence felt at the jetty or the industrial estate to issue the mandatory health cards for the migrant labourers, leave alone conducting inspections”.
When contacted, Director of Health Services, Dr Sanjeev Dalvi, however, said that the primary health centres set up in Salcete and elsewhere conform to the all India health parameters. “I understand that demands are being raised for health centres, but it is not practical to sanction additional health centres. Infrastructure is a major problem. There may be a building in place, but making available manpower, including doctors and nurses, to man the centres is a problem. Things will improve over a period of time”, Dr Dalvi said. He added: “The government has given sanction for the upgradation of the Navelim sub-centre into a health centre. But, it will take some time before all the facilities are put in place”. [H]