Community volunteer Naqibullah mobilizes members of community on the issue of health clinic. Photo: UNDP-ACTION / 2021

Hazrat Sultan Comprehensive Health Center (CHC) is located in the remote district of Hazrat Sultan, Samangan Province in northern Afghanistan. The health facility is designed to provide health services for the district’s population of around 46 thousand, and hundreds of residents from the villages visit the health center every day. The clinic has several units offering services such as outpatient visits, midwifery, vaccination, laboratory, nutrition, and mental health treatment. It also has a pharmacy and an ambulance. 

However, the health clinic’s visitors faced serious problems as medical staff in the clinic would not provide them the free medicine available at the clinic. This negligence of the health center staff had deep health, psychological and economic effects on the lives of many of the poor villagers. This issue became a major concern in the communities and they decided to do something to address the issue. With support from UNDP’s ACTION Project the  community selected a volunteer, Mr. Naqibullah, to visit the health center for routine community-based monitoring. During the visit, he discovered that the health center’s staff do not provide the available medicine for the patients.

Observing the situation in the health center, the volunteer acted quickly and mobilized the community to find a solution for the problem. To resolve this issue, he initiated an advocacy campaign, met with several of the hospital’s visitor/patients to record the issues and met with community elders to mobilize them for a joint advocacy campaign. The community leaders organized a meeting with the health center officials and raised the issue.

”When I visited the health center, the patients were in a state of despair and hopelessness. Doctors did not provide the any medicine on the patients’ prescriptions and instead asked them to buy their medicines from the local market” said Naqibullah . “It was unacceptable to see health workers who are ethically and professionally responsible to treat people do not provide medicines for the patients”.

At the beginning, it seemed to be difficult to convince the health center officials, but after long and effective discussions and joint advocacy visits including key community elders who made it clear to the clinic staff that they would take the issue to provincial government officials if they continue with the practice, the efforts paid off and the health center officials committed to provide medicine for patients.

Mohammad Karim, a visitor to the health center said, “We used to have a lot of problems. Our poor people could not afford to buy medicines from the market, and many of them would struggle with their illness.” Luckily, our joint effort with the support of the volunteers, solved this problem and we can now get the medicines we need”

The community volunteer explained the whole process of community based monitoring to the community elders, and that if they face any delay or corruption issue in service delivery, they can and should hold government official accountable. The first layer would start at district administrative level, and if the problem is not resolved there, they can take the issue to provincial level to be discussed in Sectorial Management Group meeting.

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