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District hospitals are the facilities for clinical care at the district level. District hospitals serve an average population of 100,000 to 200,000 people in a clearly defined geographical area. The number of beds in a district hospital is usually between 50 and 60. It is the first referral hospital and forms an integral part of the district health system.

A typical district hospital provides the following:

Curative care, preventive care, and promotion of health of the people in the district

  • Quality clinical care by a more skilled and competent staff than those of the health centres and polyclinics
  • Treatment techniques, such as surgery, not available at health centres
  • Laboratory and other diagnostic techniques appropriate to the medical, surgical, and out-patient activities of the district hospital
  • Inpatient care until the patient can go home or back to the health centre
  • Training and technical supervision to health centres, as well as a resource centre for health centres at each district hospital
  • Twenty-four-hour hospital services
  • Accident and emergency services

With this structure, all district hospitals are expected to make provision for psychiatric wings, where they may adopt a number of beds in the wards temporarily. This is to help them admit temporarily patients who have been referred from polyclinics or health centers and need a day or two’s monitoring.

Should patients require longer periods of monitoring, they may be referred to the regional hospital where there are wings for psychiatric care. Psychiatric wings in district hospitals will be managed by Psychiatric nurses who will be supported by Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs).