Health department to launch toll-free helpline

Dial 104 to get info on medicines, file complaints, says U T Khader

Health department to launch toll-free helpline

With an intention to help the patients in rural areas, the health department will introduce toll-free helpline 104 which can be accessed by people across the State, from next week, Health Minister U T Khader announced on Friday. 

Speaking to media persons on the sidelines of a programme in Ullal, the Minister said the helpline serves three purposes viz., to deliver information to people about the location of the nearby hospitals, suggest medicines for particular disease in case of emergencies and receive public complaints about hospitals and the health department. The helpline has begun functioning on trial basis two days ago and it will be officially launched in Hubli next week. 

He also said that a monitoring cell will be opened in the office of the health ministry to deal with technical problems faced by the government hospitals across the State. An experts team will be appointed to address complaints related to technical aspects and the cell will ensure that the problems will be set right within 24 hours. 

Compulsory rural service

Answering to a query on the large number of vacancies of doctors and medical officers in the government hospitals, the Health Minister said the problem is most likely to be solved if the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Course Bill, 2012, is implemented as an Act. 

The Bill which was passed in the Assembly and the Council is now before the President of India for his approval. 

“Introduction of the Act will ensure that every fresh medical graduate and post graduate will compulsorily serve in rural hospitals for one year. 

In case if the Bill fails to receive the approval, then the State government has planned  to increase the penalty amount to be paid by medical graduates who wish to opt out of the contract,” he said.

Furthermore, he said at present the graduates who are willing to opt out of rural service after the completion of their course are made to pay penalty of Rs 1 lakh to the government, post graduate diploma holders are made to pay Rs three lakh and post graduates should pay Rs five lakh. 

The government has received Rs seven crore penalty in the last one year which only proves that attempts to draw medical graduates to rural service has gone futile.

“Keeping this in mind, the government has planned to increase the penalty amount from Rs one lakh to Rs 10 lakh for MBBS graduates, from Rs three lakh to Rs 15 lakh to PG diploma holders and from Rs five lakh to Rs 20 lakh to post graduates. This would come into effect from next year, if the Bill fails to get the President’s approval,” U T Khader said.

Meanwhile, he said the process of filling vacancies of doctors in the government hospitals has begun. 

Counseling for 110 posts of programme officers will be held next week and the process of filling the vacancies of 196 junior medical officers posts and vacant posts of senior medical officers posts too will begin, he said.

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