Dehradun, December 29

The Health Department spent a greater part of 2012 in trying to fix the problem of manpower shortage and drafting a transfer policy to ensure greater compliance by allopathic doctors who have been shunning duty in the remote areas of Uttarakhand. However, the efforts yielded mixed results.

As soon as the Congress returned to power in the state in 2012, it repealed the Transfer Act enacted by the pervious BJP government at the fag end of its rule. It then promised to come out with a new transfer policy, exclusively for the government allopathic doctors. Hence, in 2012 the doctors were transferred on the basis of the old policy.
But even that was not trouble free as 60 doctors refused to join duty at their place of transfer and filed writ petitions in court, forcing the government to wring its hands in despair. Now, the common refrain among the medical fraternity is “when politicians from the hill region are migrating to the plains to fight elections, why push doctors to the hill villages against their will”.
Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Pauri, Champawat, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts continue to face a shortage of doctors. As of now, against the sanctioned strength of 126 surgeons these districts have only 35 surgeons while against the sanctioned strength of 127 physicians only 27 are working there.
To that end, the Health Department in 2013 would be looking to find an antidote to the problem of allopathic doctors shunning duty in remote and backward areas in the hills.
In the backdrop of the refusal by the allopathic doctors to serve in remote areas, the government tried to tide over the manpower crunch by announcing hike in salary for contractual doctors. In 2012, the Uttarakhand government hiked the salaries of contractual allopathic doctors. It is now offering Rs 52,000 to medical officers with an MBBS degree, Rs 59,000 to specialists willing to serve in remote areas in the hill region, Rs 56,000 to MBBS degree holders and Rs 63,000 to specialists willing to work in extreme remote areas of the state. However, till now only 18 doctors have responded to the new government decisions.
Closer home, the Doon Hospital authorities were successful in roping in a neuro-surgeon. The government doctor decided to serve the hospital as his father too had served it in the past, though he had offers from private hospitals.
Public Private Partnership
The Health Department continued to affirm faith in the public private partnership (PPP) and announced to run around 13 Community Health Centres on the PPP mode. Fortis Cardiac Health Care in the Coronation Hospital too became functional and open heart surgeries were undertaken.
Funds, equipment mismanagement
While there has been no dearth of funds, the mismanagement of money has been rampant.
A trauma centre constructed at a cost of Rs 55.82 lakh at Vikasnagar continues to remain non-functional for the past three years due to lack of doctors and infrastructure. The area is prone to accidents and most of the time the patients have to be ferried to Doon Hospital.
Similarly, during an inspection by the health officials recently a cardiac table was found lying unused in the District Hospital in Rudraprayag.
Frequent transfers of Principal Secretaries
The proclivity of the Congress government to transfer secretaries in a few months resulted in the complete loss of direction, affecting functioning of the department. The year saw around four bureaucrats transferred in two to three months.
The government finally gave the go-ahead for the creation of a separate Directorate of Medical Education and a structure for the Food Safety Authority. 

Tribune News 

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