For residents living in the Narang district of Kunar in Afghanistan, the only health facility available to them is the Narang health clinic. The clinic is the only local facility available for people to enquire about their basic health issues, as well as when they face other health related emergencies. However, serving so many people and being the sole health centre in the area, the hospital itself seems to be suffering from a classic case of inadequately fulfilling demand.
Speaking to local residents at the clinic, many felt extremely dissatisfied with the treatment they were given. One such patient, 23-year-old Aminullah, had come to the clinic wanting to treat his illness, but the hospital was unable to help him. “They cannot even diagnose my illness or tell me its causes, because there are no proper facilities at the hospital.” Instead, he claims that patients are quickly checked and hastily given pills without first identifying their illness.
Wahadatullah had a similar experience, stating that he was given very little attention from doctors, after becoming ill with cholera. “I have really been suffering from my illness, but when I came to the hospital the doctors did not seem very attentive – this is the same for most patients who come here.”
This inability to provide proper care has led many to believe that the doctors are inexperienced, “It is the doctors duty to be more helpful towards patients, but most are inexperienced and so do not know how to treat us. This is the health ministries responsibility to make sure they check that doctors comply with their roles,” Wahdatullah argued. Wahdat agreed, “The government needs to keep a watch on them so that they are working correctly.”
While anger and frustration towards the doctors increases, the doctors themselves have their own set of challenges to deal with. After opening sixteen years, the number of patients has steadily increased so that there are now an estimated 300 patients every day. However, keeping up with this demand has proven to be a great challenge, as Doctor Rahmat, who works at the clinic explained. “This hospital contains only ten beds, while there are a total of eighteen doctors working here, each with their own patients – it has become very difficult for us to manage all of the patients, especially as we always struggle to have enough medicine.”
Both sides it seems – patients and doctors – are looking for more government involvement, with patients wanting doctors to be checked and doctors wanting an improvement and expansion of facilities, as Doctor Rahmat suggested, “The number of people wanting treatment is a lot bigger than the capacity of the hospital. Another clinic needs to be built in the district – there is no other way we can keep up with such demand.”