Bhubaneawar: Given the dismal doctor : population ratio of the country, it’s obvious that Odisha’s health sector needs lot of improvement.
However, what is worrying is that the State is lagging in management of whatever man power and infrastructure it has developed over years.
The recruitment policy, the posting of personnel, maintaining medicine inventory, and putting in place the infrastructure and equipments need some strategy to take maximum advantage of the existing facilities.
In the time of Covid-19 pandemic, the State hopefully realise where it is lacking.
During the time of pandemic, the society need the service of public health experts and community medicine experts more than the other medical experts or MBBS doctors. They are the experts who are supposed to be at the centre at the present terrible times of Covid-19 pandemic.
The community medicine experts and public health experts are supposed to be at the helm of affairs now. They are supposed to manage the pandemic situation issue the SOP for the general public.
The State government has rightly drafted the service of Dr Kaushik Misha, an community medicine expert, and made him an expert member in the Odisha Team for Covid-19 . Kaushik was teaching in Koraput medical college.
The State government need to engage more more Doctor Sanghamitra Pati, the ICMR-Regional Medical Research Centre,Bhubaneswar, director, who is an expert in public health.
As per the norm, Odisha should have at least 260 community medicine and public health experts. But, there are hardly 50 such experts in the government rolls. Worse, these experts are often engaged in other jobs. And, still worse general practitioners or medical experts, for their right connections, grab their posts -health officers in Municipals and NACs and director public health.
Odisha has to manage the community medicine and public health expert cadres in the right way. This would certainly help in facing Covid-19 pandemic like situation in a better way. Continuous surveillance of community diseases, management of public health, vaccinations, and issuance of SOP at regular interval would made the State more prepared for situations like today.
The State should also make endeavour to improve the cadre management of doctors.
Odisha has increased it doctors strength during the last 12 months. Just before the 2019 election it recruited 1000 doctors and recently it inducted about 1500 doctors.With this the strength of doctors in the State has increased to 8719.
The recruitments were done for posting primary health centres (PHCs) in periphery. But, most of the doctors recruited in pre-election time either vanished from the scene of action (read preparing for PG entrance) or posted in the new medical colleges. The government’s psot-election recruitment, the process of posting going on now, will also meet the same fate. Net result, doctors posted in PHCs will only be on pen and paper.
Union minister of state for health & family welfare Aswani Choube had told the Lok Sabha back in August 2919 that Odisha has a shortfall of 5771 doctors in PHCs level. While the State requires 6688 doctors at PHC level, 1326 posts have been sanctioned, of which 917 are in position and 409 posts are laying vacant as on March 2018.
But, despite the recent recruitment drives the situation is not going to improve as many would bunk duties for PG preparation and some with high connection would manage to avoid postings in remote areas.
Almost 2000 doctors recruited and posted in peripheral health facilities have either left for their Post Graduation courses or sent to new medical colleges on deputation. Health and Family Welfare Minister Nabakishore Das said the creation of posts of Leave Training Reserve Medical Officer (LTRMO) will help bridge the gap in the number of recruited and actually present doctors at health centres.
By Dr. M. M. Das