Controversy erupts over use of prefix ‘Dr’ by AYUSH docs recruited as MLHPs

DHS Jammu first allows, then withdraws order
Govind Sharma
JAMMU, July 1: A controversy has erupted over use of prefix ‘Dr’ by AYUSH doctors engaged as Mid Level Health Providers (MLHPs) with Director Health Services (DHS) Jammu first allowing MLHPs to use the prefix and then withdrawing her directions within weeks.
Official sources told Excelsior that after getting directions from Director Health Services Jammu Dr Renu Sharma, Deputy Director Health Services (Schemes), Dr Seema Gupta vide its letter number DHS-J/Sch/AYUSH/MLHPs/ 835-47 dated 28-05-2019 addressed to Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), Doda/Jammu/ Kathua/Kishtwar/Poonch/Rajouri/Ramban/Reasi/Samba/Udhampur, said that prefix ‘Dr’ may be addressed for all Mid Level Health Providers in their future correspondences.
“In the letter, the Deputy Director also directed CMOs to ensure that monthly work done incentive is also paid to the MLHPs in addition to their monthly remuneration,” sources said, adding, but to the surprise of the MLHPs, Director Health Services Jammu withdrew her earlier directions of allowing use of prefix ‘Dr’ by MLHPs just after 12 days i.e. on June 6 by issuing fresh directions to CMOs vide her letter number DHS-J/Sch/AYUSH/MLHPs/ 912-24.
The letter read: “I am directed to inform you that the directions issued by this office vide letter number DHS-J/Sch/AYUSH/MLHPs/835-47 dated 28-05-2019 are withdrawn for all intents and purposes. Further, you are also directed not to release monthly work done incentive to MLHPs in addition to their monthly remuneration as both issues needs to be addressed by the Mission Director, NHM, J&K, who is the appropriate authority to take a call in the matter”.
This was followed by issuance of orders from several BMOs directing MLHPs not to use prefix ‘Dr’ with their names and also not in the official correspondence i.e. on attendance registers, letters, applications, etc, as they are designated as MLHPs as per the selection list/deployment order by the higher authorities and they had joined the vacant/sanctioned post of MLHP not Medical officer at HWCs. The MLHPs were also warned of strict action for non-compliance of the orders.
On the conditions of anonymity, some MLHPs said that a well-thought conspiracy is being hatched by some vested interest to humiliate the AYUSH doctors engaged as MLHPs under National Health Mission (NHM) and to succeed in their bad intentions; they are even letting down our Lok Sabha wherein the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Anupriya Patel had said on December 14, 2018 while replying to a question that the prefix ‘Dr’ may be used by practitioners of any system of medicine recognized by Government of India.
They said, however, ignoring their degrees which they have secured after studying hard continuously for 5 and a half years, every effort is being made to let down AYUSH degree holders as after every day or another, one or other BMO is issuing orders directing them not to use prefix ‘Dr’ with their names and also not in the official correspondence i.e. on attendance registers, letters, applications, etc, while citing that they are designated as MLHPs as per selection list/deployment order by the higher authorities.
Expressing resentment over the controversy, Dr Varun Suthra, convener, All AYUSH Doctors’ Joint Association, said that an Ayurvedic graduate has every right to use prefix ‘Dr’ with his name notwithstanding the post on which he is working. “During this Corona pandemic crisis when health employees including MLHPs are working day and night to defeat Coronavirus, controversial and discriminatory orders issued by Health Department are demoralizing the MLHPs who are working as frontline warriors,” he regretted.
When contacted, Director Health Services (DHS) Jammu, Dr Renu Sharma, said that her office issued first order allowing the MLHPs to use prefix ‘Dr’ with their names after a delegation of MLHPs called on her but when she realized that the matter pertains to NHM, she withdrew earlier order and took up the matter with Managing Director of NHM. However, her office has yet not received any reply from the office of MD NHM.
“It is no issue at all as we never stopped MLHPs from using the prefix ‘Dr’ with their names. By virtue of their qualification they can write ‘Dr’ with their names. Whatever confusion is being created, it will be resolved,” said Dr Bhupinder Kumar, MD, NHM J&K, when contacted.