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People of Darkut are in search of a messiah

By Gul Nayab

ISLAMABAD: For many outsiders, Darkut valley could be a heaven on earth because of its natural beauty, pristine streams, glaciers, and snow-clad mountains. But its remoteness, inaccessibility, lack of basic needs coupled with the apathy of the administration have made it hell for the locals.

Situated in the west of Gilgit-Baltistan on the Pak-Afghan border, the secluded valley’s tourism potential and natural resources have not yet been exploited fully, thanks to the apathy of the officials concerned. The valley is still deprived of basic human needs such as roads, healthcare, and education. People are literally living in Stone Age in the 21st Century’s fast-growing technological era.

Climate change-related phenomena and extreme weathers add to the woes of the over 1,500 inhabitants of the valley. In summer flash floods caused by melting and outburst of glaciers, lakes wash away the already battered roads and disrupt traffic and accessibility of the people to health, education facilities in other villages of Yasin.

Heavy snowfall and avalanches in winter confines people to remain indoors disconnecting Darkut valley from the rest of the region. The freezing cold also causes various respiratory diseases. Although there is a dispensary in the village, it lacks, life-saving medicines, an experienced paramedic what to talk of a medical specialist that could cater to the need of the population. People in a state of hopelessness wait for the demise of serious patients.

According to the locals, patients have to visit the dispensary just for a psychological satisfaction. Those who could afford to transport their patients to Gahkuch or Gilgit or Karachi.

Talking about the sorry state of affairs in the valley, Jamsheed Ahmad, head of Adil Foundation, a non-profit organization, said that health is the primary issue of the valley and poor road condition is multiplying the agonies of the people.

This could be gauged from the fact that the mortality rate among women and children is high due to the lack of healthcare facilities and doctors in the region, he said.

“We are planning to arrange a medical camp in the valley with specialists to identify major health issues and diagnose diseases prevalent among the population so that we could develop a strategy to deal with them,” said Mr. Ahmad.

He said that Darkut valley badly needs dispensaries, BHUs to provide initial treatment to women and children to minimize the high mortality rate.

When asked about the lack of healthcare facilities in Darkut valley, opposition PML-N Member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly from the constituency Ghulam Muhammad said that it was he who built the only dispensary in the valley in 1993. Later a C-class dispensary was also built in the Galtenj area of the valley.

Talking about the lack of facilities he mentioned that there was a nursing assistant in the dispensary who was responsible for the provision of first aid facilities to the patients in emergency cases.

He said that a truck road was in process of construction which would facilitate the residents to have early access to medical care in other towns of the tehsil. He promised to get the Darkut dispensary upgraded to C-class so that patients could get better treatment facilities there.

Answering a question about the overall health infrastructure of Yasin Valley, the MLA claimed that although the previous government had announced various incentive packages including hard area allowance besides substantial increase in salaries, doctors were not ready to work in the far-flung areas.

“Doctors have a sort of materialistic approach towards their profession, therefore they prefer to perform duty either in Gigit City’ government hospitals or Gahkuch to make more bucks”, said the MLA.

Doctors are not available and those available are not willing to work in preipheries and rural areas.

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