TIRUCHY: It's 9 am on Tuesday. There is a long queue of pregnant women waiting at EB Road Urban Primary Health Centre, as there are no seats for them to sit. Most of the women start queuing up at 8 am for weekly antenatal check-up, so that they don't have to wait for long, as the doctor arrives at 9 am. At least 100 pregnant women turn up at this centre for check-up every Tuesday. When this reporter visited the PHC on Tuesday, at least 40 women were seen waiting in the sun for their turn.
There is a room inside the PHC, close to the entrance, where the doctor sits. A nurse checks the BP of the women, before sending them inside. There is a bench outside the room, where these women sit and wait, but it can accommodate only about 10 people. Right opposite is another bench, where most of the attenders, elderly women, sit. Some women can be seen waiting on the right side for giving blood samples.
According to officials, the PHC is always crowded because it covers four wards and six sectors of the Tiruchy Corporation -- Wards 7, 14, 15 and 21. As an MLA was visiting the PHC on Tuesday, chairs had been placed, the waiting women claimed.
Their attendants too, mostly their mothers, were seen waiting with them. One of the women waiting for her turn, said, "First, we have to get an OP chit. Then, we have to get our height, weight and BP checked. Sometimes, we have to give blood and urine samples too. There is a separate queue for blood tests. If we come at 8 am, it is almost 2 to 3 pm by the time we get done." Most of the women said an entire day gets wasted waiting for the check-up, as there is only one doctor at the centre.
Another woman said, "It was not so bad earlier. There was a building where we used to wait. However, repair works are on in this structure and we are forced to wait in the open."
Dr Malini, in-charge of the PHC, said the problem was owing to a construction work underway. "Once the building is ready, there will be a lot more space and nobody will have to wait outside," she said. The centre sees 90-110 antenatal women every Tuesday. Specialists also visit the centre and take care of high-risk women, she added.
"We have a polyclinic too, and refer high-risk women to the doctor there. We give all pregnant women vitamins, necessary medicines and nutrition kits. We also give iron sucrose to anaemic mothers. If haemoglobin is less, we arrange for blood in the third trimester," said Dr Malini.
The PHC also needs a new ultrasound machine. Tiruchy Corporation Commissioner Mujibur Rahuman said he would look into the matter.