The health department has plenty of drugs, but the doctors are desperate! Purchase of medicines worth 1,100 crores while 17,864 posts are vacant Maharashtra health department has enough medicines but doctors are less

Sandeep Acharya, Loksatta

Mumbai : Nanded After the tragic deaths in the government medical colleges, many complaints are being made by the patients about the lack of medicines in the government medical colleges. In the Nanded case, though the hospital says it has enough medicines, many patients have complained to news channels that they were told to bring medicines from outside. In this background, there is no complaint of medicines in public health department hospitals. But it is seen that there is a huge shortage of doctors and nurses for treatment. A shocking fact has come to light that 17 thousand 864 posts are vacant in the Health Department including Health Director, Joint Director, District Surgeon. The doctors of the department are raising the question of how to call the chariot of the health department in such an adverse situation.

The health department has a total of 527 hospitals including rural hospitals, upazila hospitals, women’s hospitals and general hospitals in the state, while there are 1906 primary health centers and 10 thousand 740 sub-centres. In all these hospitals and clinics of the Health Department, 3 crore 16 lakh 62 thousand 226 patients are treated annually in the outpatient department, while 27 lakh 82 thousand 596 patients are admitted and treated in hospitals. Apart from this, one lakh 96 thousand 767 major surgeries and two lakh 89 thousand 406 minor surgeries were performed. Also, about three and a half crore tests have been done in the laboratory including patient tests and X-rays. 600 crores of medicines are procured by the health department annually for the treatment of patients, while under the National Health Missions, 250 crores are available for the procurement of medicines through the central government. Apart from this, senior doctors of the health department say that there is no shortage of medicines in the hospitals under the health department as funds of Rs. 250 crore are available for all the districts through the district planning committee. Also for the year 2023-24, the health department has approved the purchase of drugs up to 20 percent of the total annual demand as per the available tariff contract under the Central Government’s State Workers’ Insurance Corporation. Due to this, medicines are abundant in health department hospitals. But the picture is that there are not enough doctors for treatment.

Even though health care is an essential service, as many as 17 thousand 864 posts have not been filled in the health department. For many years every health minister announces the filling of these posts in every session. But actually the posts are not filled. Due to this, the emphasis has been placed on the administration of health by filling the posts of doctors on a very contractual basis at very low salaries. On the one hand, 17 thousand vacant posts are not to be filled, on the other hand, the management of rural health is being done by appointing contract doctors and other employees. Under the National Child Health Programme, about 2100 Ayurvedic doctors are appointed on contractual basis for 11 months to check the health of about two and a half crore children in all Zilla Parishads, Municipalities and private schools and Anganwadis in the state. For this, these doctors are given a salary of only 22 thousand to 28 thousand rupees. Sanket Kulkarni said. Similar is the situation of 281 doctors of Bharari team working in tribal districts and remote areas and they have been working on a salary of only 40 thousand rupees for many years. Apart from this, 35 thousand people from pharmacists, technicians to nurses are working in health department on contract basis at very low salary.

Both the Health Directors were working on a temporary basis in the Directorate of Health, which administered the health of the state. But today the health department has no director as they were also removed. Apart from this, the post of Director of Health (City) has not been filled even though it has been created. Apart from this, there are total 42 sanctioned posts of Additional Director, Joint Director, Deputy Director Assistant Director in the Directorate out of which 32 posts are not filled. This ratio is 76 percent. Recently some posts of Deputy Director have been filled up. However, as many as 452 posts of District Surgeons and Officers are vacant while there are 676 sanctioned posts of Specialists out of which 479 posts are not filled. It includes various posts like paediatrician, gynaecologist, ophthalmologist etc. About 1200 posts of Medical Officer Class ‘A’ and ‘B’ are unfilled. About 14,000 Class ‘C’ and Class ‘D’ posts in Health Department are not filled. Out of the total sanctioned 57,522 posts in the Health Department, 17,864 posts are vacant. The critical aspect of this is that these positions are not based on today’s population assumptions. Senior officials of the health department say that even though the health services of Maharashtra are being hit hard by this, the state government is completely apathetic about filling up these posts.

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Though vacancies and promotion of doctors, nurses and other employees is a big problem before the health department, 11 thousand vacancies will be filled by October, said the top officials of the health department. Similarly, sources say that 1,800 vacant posts of doctors will be filled in the next month. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde made a clear stand that he will not listen to the complaint that the main thing is that there are no more doctors or manpower. It is expected from the doctors of the health department that they will no longer have to face red tape while filling up the vacant posts under the health department.

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