In a follow-up to a story published earlier this month by India Today NE, Assam State Health Department officials have finally visited the Gohalkona Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Center, previously known as Gohalkona Sub-Center, located along the Assam-Meghalaya border, 11 kilometers from Boko. The story had highlighted the poor condition of the state-run Gohalkona Center.
On March 27, Assam health department officials, revenue department, and disaster management officials visited the center after reading about its condition in the India Today NE article. Atanu Medhi, a staff member at the center, confirmed the officials' visit and stated that they had come to look into repairing the center and constructing a new building.
Despite the visit, the center continues to face significant challenges. The previous night's storm had damaged several roof sheets, and center staff were forced to dry documents outside in the sun. The center's building is in a pitiful state, with bamboo holding up the roofing sheets. Every year, repairs must be made with the help of the local public and the center's untied funds.
Medhi revealed that they receive around forty thousand rupees every year for repairs and other matters, but the funds come in two installments. As a result, they must seek physical assistance from villagers and from other sources.
Speaking exclusively to India Today NE, Mohitosh Banerjee, Joint Director of the Kamrup District Health Department, confirmed that officials were sent to the Gohalkona Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Center after the department became aware of its dilapidated condition through an article published by India Today NE. Banerjee stated that although the health center is not government-owned, the government took the initiative to investigate the issue and sent officials to assess the situation. The officials have been instructed to submit a report on their findings. Banerjee also assured that the health center will be renovated and reconstructed.
Caroline Sangma, an elderly resident of the village, spoke about the center's condition, saying, "This health center has been running for more than 20 years, but till now, the government has not provided a solid building so that people of the area can relax without worrying about repairing the house after a thunderstorm."
The center serves a population of around 2000 from two revenue villages, Gohalkona and Lepgaon. It is situated in a hilly area where roads are not well-maintained, and many people have lost their lives while trying to reach a hospital. Sangma emphasized the importance of the medical health center and urged the state government to construct a new building before the rainy season.
Dr. Mantu Kr. Das, the Sub Divisional Medical Officer of Boko, said, "Gohalkona will be the Basic Health Center, and its building has already been sanctioned in government documents. Some official matters are running on, and very soon the construction of the new building will start."
Atanu Medhi expressed his disappointment that the center is not part of the Assam government's 'Kayakalp' scheme, which promotes cleanliness, hygiene, and infection control practices in public healthcare facilities. He feels that the center deserves recognition for adhering to standard protocols of cleanliness and infection control.
Caroline Sangma expressed her disappointment that, even though the villagers had provided land for the new building, the government has not shown an interest in constructing it. She added, "We villagers provide them our house for running the center, yet the government does not show interest in constructing a new building. Even the state government did not pay rent for the house."
The plight of the Gohalkona Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Center has brought attention to the challenges facing rural healthcare facilities in India. The hope is that the government will take immediate action to address the problems faced by this and other rural health centers.
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