Hospitals of hilly districts still facing shortage of manpower

*Two H1N1 labs nowhere in sight

Govind Sharma

JAMMU: The assurances of the then Minister for Health, Medical Education, ARI and Trainings, Ch Lal Singh on the Floor of the House in last budget session proved to be hollow whether it be shortage of medicos- and para-medicos in various health institutions or early establishment of two H1N1 labs (one in GMC Jammu and other in Chest Diseases Hospital, Srinagar under GMC Srinagar).
Replying to the questions of PDP MLA, Shah Mohammad Tantray and BJP MLA from Doda, Shakti Parihar on the shortage of doctors and para-medical staff in various health institutions of the State in the Legislative Assembly last year, Ch Lal Singh had said that necessary measures had been initiated to fill up the vacant posts of medicos and para-medicos in the hospitals. He had further said that 226 posts of consultants had already been referred to Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission adding that as and when the selection list is received, the vacant posts shall be filled up accordingly.
But to the utter disappointment of people of the State particularly hilly districts of Jammu Division there seems no improvement in manpower in these health institutions, which are still reeling under acute shortage of manpower. Though some posts of doctors were filled in last over eight months but this number was like a drop in vast ocean of vacant posts of doctors.
According to the sources in the Health Department, against 50 sanctioned posts of specialist doctors in Doda district only 20 are in place presently and against 135 posts of MOs only 44 are in place. However, the sources said that to overcome this shortage 22 MBBS and 22 ISM doctors have been engaged in various health institutions of the district.
In Poonch district, against 48 sanctioned posts of Specialists 28 are in position, against 118 posts of MOs 61 are in place out of which 19 are engaged under NRHM. Similarly, against 22 posts of Dental Surgeons only 6 are in place, against 20 posts of Senior Staff Nurses only 2 are in position while against 20 posts of Junior Staff Nurses 13 are in place.
The sources further revealed that against 35 sanctioned posts of Specialists in Poonch district 9 are vacant, against 114 posts of MOs only 29 are in position and against 27 posts of Dental surgeons 21 are in place while as against 33 posts of MBBS doctors under NRHM, only 12 are in place and against 51 sanctioned strength of MBBS doctors under ISM, 50 are in position.
Likewise in Ramban district, against 110 sanctioned posts MOs, 67 are lying vacant while in Kishtwar district against 88 posts of MOs, 42 are vacant. In Reasi district against sanctioned strength of 93 MOs, 35 are in place whereas against 414 posts of MOs in Jammu district 381 are in position.
The then Minister also failed to keep his words on establishing two testing facilities for Swine Flu in the State (one in GMC Jammu and other at Chest Diseases Hospital, Srinagar). In last budget session he had announced in the House that the diagnostic labs for H1N1 influenza sanctioned by the State Cabinet will be made functional shortly but none of the two labs could be made functional till now while the Swine Flu has started spreading its tentacles in various parts of the Country and at any moment this dreaded disease may knock the door of the State, as winter season is in full swing in both regions of the State.
Pertinent to mention here that in the absence of any testing facility for Swine flu in Jammu Division, the patients had to suffer a lot during last winter season, as the samples had to be sent to NCDC New Delhi for testing, from where the test reports used to take at least 7-8 days to reach Jammu. More than a dozen people died of this dreaded disease and half of the casualties were from Jammu province. Around 500 people had tested positive for H1N1 virus in the State.
According to the sources though the work on the two labs is going on in their respective places but the pace of the work is so slow that it will take at least another six months to put them in place for use.