Docs in rural health centres still a mirage

Docs in rural health centres still a mirage

Even as the State government has decided to make it mandatory for the MBBS students to undergo one-year internship in rural areas from the next academic year, the condition of the rural health centres in Dakshina Kannada, perhaps reflects the strong need for the introduction of a new policy. 

Despite the district that flaunts of accommodating seven reputed medical colleges and generating hundreds of MBBS graduates every year, the fact remains that the post of junior doctors or the fresh medical graduates in the rural hospitals remain vacant and recruiting the new candidates has literally become a nightmare for the authorities. Out of the 11 sanctioned posts of Additional Medical Officers for the taluk hospitals and a few selected Primary Health Centres (PHCs), as many as eight posts are lying vacant since a year, whereas the two of the three filled posts were recruited recently. The three health centres with Additional Medical Officers are Ujire, Sullia and Bellare PHC.

After the government order stating to recruit Additional Medical Officers for the Taluk Hospitals which handle over 30 delivery cases a month and PHCs that handle over 15 delivery cases a month, the Health Department began the process of recruiting the doctors.

The AMOs are recruited with an intention to ease the burden of the Chief Medical Officers. 

Though, initially the rules were liberal and even the Ayush doctors were recruited as the Additional Medical Officers in the rural hospitals, the problem mounted in the form of the government insisting to recruit only the MBBS graduates as the AMOs.

The recruitment problem which has been persisting from last four years, has intensified now. Speaking to Deccan Herald, District Health Officer O Srirangappa said that despite the District Health and Family Welfare Department repeatedly placing advertisements in the media making call for, for the vacant posts, there has been a very poor response from the MBBS graduates.

“The last time when we called for the vacant posts in January 2012, only two MBBS graduates turned up, while rest of all the candidates were Ayush doctors. Though, one MBBS graduate joined for the duty, he has already submitted his resignation, stating that he cannot cope-up with the rural population,” said the DHO.

The posts of the AMOs are recruited on one year contract basis and unlike earlier, the doctors are not paid in peanuts now. 

The monthly salary paid to them is nearly Rs 29,000 including the DA facility and adding to it is the improved condition of the rural PHCs. Yet, the young graduates are not turning up as they either opt for the PG courses or work in the private hospitals. 

The State government grants salary to these staff under the Reproductive and Child Health, but due to the unavailability of the doctors, the District Health Department could not use the sanctioned amount.

15 other vacant posts

Apart from the posts of AMOs, are the 15 posts of general duty doctors in the government hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres which too are lying vacant.

The few posts are clear cut vacancies, a few have been considered vacant due to the doctors’ unauthorised leave for a long time and vacancies created due to the doctors’ suspension. According to the DHO, it has been difficult to find the eligible and interested doctors for these posts. 

With no general duty doctors, a few PHCs are managing the show with the assistance of the neighbouring PHC doctors who are deputed to look after both the PHCs.