90% primary health centers in rural areas sans doctors

The New-Type Primary Health Centers (NTPHC) which were set up in J&K over last one decade are facing acute shortage of doctors, defeating the purpose of providing easy access to healthcare to people in rural areas.
90% primary health centers in rural areas sans doctors
Representational Pic

The New-Type Primary Health Centers (NTPHC) which were set up in J&K over last one decade are facing acute shortage of doctors, defeating the purpose of providing easy access to healthcare to people in rural areas.

An official document revealed that against sanctioned posts of 605 doctors only 62 doctors have been deputed to these centers.

These statistics were discussed in a meeting of health and medical education department that was chaired by former governor NN Vohra recently.

The meeting was told that though 641 NTPHCs have been announced over past decade they are yet to start operations due to shortage of manpower.

"There are a total of 605 sanctioned positions of doctors for these PHCs. However, only 62 of these positions have been filled leaving 543 (90 percent) vacant," said an official.

He said the failure of authorities to fill these positions was a major impediment in improvement of health services in rural areas.

The issue of manpower shortage in NTPHCs was also highlighted by comptroller and auditor general in its latest report.

The report, while underlining the issue had revealed that despite approval by the government to upgrade 371 health sub-centers to new type primary health centers (NTPHC) in Kashmir division, nothing was done on the ground to make them functional.

As per the report, sanction was accorded to recruitment of 371 medical officers and 1284 casual workers to function as nursing orderlies in these centers. "None of the NTPHCs in the test districts have been provided required facilities by way of additional manpower and other infrastructure indicating that only nomenclature had been changed" reads the CAG report.

The report says that such delay in upgrading infrastructure and manpower in health institutes was "defeating purpose of upgradation".

During the meeting to review status of the NTPHCs the former Governor directed recruitment agency including J&K public service commission to fast track recruitment, and resort to "interim measures" to address the issue immediately.

The official said following the directions the authorities were planning interim measures including hiring doctors on short term contracts by district level committees to make the centers functional.

But it will take some time before the committees are setup to set "things rolling", said the official.

Officials in directorate of health services Kashmir said that due to the non availability of doctors, administration was forced to depute doctors from its existing pool to run these NTPHC. 

"Recently, we recruited a few new doctors to address shortage in peripheral hospitals. However, we were left with no option but to post some of these in NTPHCs in far flung areas," the official said.

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