Ladakh Health Centres

We often hear the claims of Governments that it is concerned more about providing health care facilities to the people in far flung areas in the country. After all 80 per cent of population of India lives in villages. This is also true of our State but with much more significance. It is a hilly State and villages are situated in far flung areas where accessibility is difficult and dangerous. A good percentage of State’s population lives in remote villages.
Owing to the fact that remote areas of the State are still in a process of development, it is but natural that the Government should pay more attention to providing facilities especially healthcare facilities to the people who are physically incapacitated to reap the benefits of progress made by the urban areas. The areas of high plateau called Ladakh and Kargil are situated at a height of above 11000 feet in the lap of the Himalayas. These areas are snow bound for at least five months in a year and virtually remain cut off from the rest of the country. These are thinly populated areas and the villages are dispersed over long distances. Accessibility is not very easy and hassle-free. In terms of healthcare, the people in these remote areas are not able to have the facilities that are available in other towns of the State or the valley. In view of this difficulty, the State Government had announced in 2014 that 21 New Type Primary Health Centres would be provided to the entire area with 11 of such Centres in Ladakh and 10 in Kargil. It was proposed that each of these Centres would be provided with one Medical Officer and one casual orderly called Nursing Orderly. Consequent upon this announcement the Department of Health prepared the outline of the project of creating these Health Centres and drew its budget and forwarded the scheme to the Finance Department for proper regularization.
It is the official practice to obtain clearance from the Finance Department for any new scheme especially which requires recruitment of manpower. Two years have passed when the proposal was first sent by the Health Department to the Finance Department. In between several reminders were written to the Finance Department to expedite the clearance of the case but the files did not move. Our information is that not only this scheme, even the already established Primary Health Centres have been reeling under acute shortage of Medical Officers. The net result is that two years have gone by and not a blade of grass has moved.
How is one to explain this situation? How can people believe in the tall claims of political leaders which they make in their public speeches and addresses?  Obviously, there is big gap between what is said and what is actually done on the ground. It is easy to be lost in the labyrinthine of rules and regulations and procedures and practices of officialdom. There is no end to it. But beyond all these, are the sense of humanism and the living conscience of being part of humanity. Imagine a villager in a remote village 200 miles from Leh in Nobra falling sick and needing immediate medical assistance. He cannot travel long distance to Leh over night as there may or may not be the facility of convenience. If it is winter, difficulties are multiplied. It is for these reasons that the Government wanted to establish 21 New Type Primary Health Centres, a project that stands sanctioned but withheld owing to a nod from the Finance Ministry.
Medical Officers generally avoid rendering duty at remote stations. They usually manage to get choice postings where they can live a comfortable social life and also have large scale private practice to earn good deal of money. We understand that doctors who have a political clout or are the relatives of bureaucrats and politicians generally manage their posting to choice places and avoid going to far off places. There was once a rule that a new entrant in Health Department should render at least two years of service in a remote place. But such rules are circumvented and never adhered to. Unless the Government takes such stringent actions and imposes these rules in letter and spirit, medical functionaries will always try to avoid rendering service in rural areas.
We expect the Government and especially the Finance Department not to sit on the files to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of people. The case should be financially cleared and the 21 proposed New Type Health Centres should begin to become functional without loss of time.

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