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Vacant posts hit health sector in East Singhbhum

Jamshedpur, Dec. 9, 2008: Acute shortage of health staff in East Singhbhum has badly affected healthcare services in the district.

At present, there are only 44 regular doctors against the sanctioned strength of 75. The scenario is worse when it comes to the case of contractual doctors. Only 41 doctors are working on a contractual basis in the district against the sanctioned 164 posts. There is an acute shortage of contract doctors, as many of the medicos did resign recently — complaining of long hours and poor pay.

District health officials said better health services can be offered only when the vacant posts are filled up.

East Singhbhum civil surgeon Deepali Dey admitted that absence of manpower was a taking its toll on the district healthcare services.

Besides, the district is also facing shortage of grade-A nurses, pharmacists and food inspectors.

An official at the civil surgeon's office said: "This year at least 20 contractual doctors have left, as they were overworked and dissatisfied with their salaries."

Officials of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Jamshedpur chapter, warned that the situation could worsen if the government failed to ensure positive measures to retain the doctors, soon.

"One should keep in mind that contractual doctors run the show in almost every part of the state in nearly every clinic," warned the IMA general secretary, Mritunjay Singh.

"There has been no fresh recruitment of regular doctors since 2000 — and that needs to be changed as well," said Singh. "The contractual doctors should be made regulars. Unless the contractual doctors' services are regularised, they would continue to move out of the state, adding to the already crumbling healthcare services in the district," added Singh. Apart from the staff crunch, the district's medical infrastructure is also in shambles.

"We have received a proposal to upgrade the additional primary health centres to primary centres. We are deliberating on the proposal. If that happens then the primary centres would be upgraded into health sub-centres. All these measures would help improve the health services in the days to come," Dey said.

The officials also said the state heath department is mulling to start recruitment drive for medical staff in the future.

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