Health department in ICU as the poor suffer
Critical manpower shortage in government hospitals-health centers
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, April 9: Despite the tall claims made by the Tarun Gogoi government about rapid development in the health sector in the last few years, all the medical colleges, civil hospitals and village level government dispensaries in the State are facing acute shortage of doctors, nurses and other staff. Due to critical manpower shortage and lack of efficient healthcare, people have lost their confidence in government hospitals and health centres, opting for the much costlier health care services and treatment provided by private hospitals and nursing homes. Poor patients are suffering the most, with their families desperately searching around for loans and selling land and household valuables.
According to sources, out of the total 3,470 sanctioned posts of doctors in the government sector in the State, 867 posts or more than one-fourth, are currently lying vacant. Of the total 7,502 sanctioned posts of nurses, 1,245 posts are presently lying vacant in the State, sources said. “This acute shortage of doctors and nurses in government hospitals, including the medical colleges, has hit health care services in the State hard,” sources added.
Of the total 436 sanctioned posts of doctors and non-medical teaching staff in Assam Medical College in Dibrugarh, 113 posts are lying vacant. In Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, 79 posts of doctors and non-medical teaching staff out of the total 501 sanctioned posts are lying vacant. Likewise, 69 sanctioned posts out of 252 in Silchar Medical College and Hospital, 88 posts out of 215 in Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, 72 posts out of 205 in Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital, Barpeta and 84 posts out of 203 in Tezpur Medical College and Hospital are currently lying vacant.
Similarly, 109 sanctioned posts of nurses in Assam Medical College, 100 posts in Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, 136 posts in Silchar Medical College and Hospital, 168 posts in Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, 111 posts in Fakruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital and 72 posts of nurses in Tezpur Medical College and Hospital are presently lying vacant, sources said.
Sources further stated that surprisingly only the Fakruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital at Barpeta has a permanent superintendent while the other medical colleges have in-charge superintendents.
As summer approaches, the State is bracing for increasing cases of Japanese encephalitis, malaria and dengue. But the Health department, currently headed by Dr zrul Islam, is simply not in a position to combat these deadly threats effectively. In the last four years in the State, Japanese encephalitis has taken a heavy toll. “115 people died of Japanese encephalitis in 2011, 167 in 2012, 134 in 2013 and 165 in 2014,” sources pointed out.
The fast deteriorating health care in government sector reveals the pathetic way it is being administered by the Health department, one of the most important departments of the State government. Over the years, the Health department has been making empty promises with Chief Minister Gogoi announcing plethora of health schemes in his budgets. But now the Health department itself seems to be in termil decline in the ICU. There is hardly any hope of its immediate revival, given the lack of foresight of the Health department in planning for manpower and essential medical supplies.