'Health assistants denied facilities, given 7-times extra work'

Karnataka State Senior and Junior Health Assistants (Men and Women) Association, Udupi district, has alleged that the health assistant employees are not given basic facilities and are overburdened with work.

Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday, association president Nityananda Gowda P S said that there are 59 PHCs and 6 community health centres in the district, which are understaffed. “There are several vacancies and the working employees are overburdened with work. For the junior male employee postings there are 182 posts created, of which 70 are filled and 112 are vacant. Among female employees’ posts, 324 posts are created, of which 250 are filled and 74 are vacant. Under the senior category, there are 39 vacancies for 65 posts,” he listed out.

He said that owing to the severe staff crunch, the available human resources have to work seven times extra, as compared to the normal assigned work. He said there are no promotions – even after 33 years of service, the junior health assistants are not promoted. They should retire with the jobs they had taken up during their admission into the profession, he added.

Asserting that the wages are very meagre and the payment is usually delayed, Gowda said the health assistants have to wait for two to three months for their salaries, and, sometimes, more than that. “For instance, the health assistants in Ajekaru primary heath centre have not received the salary from October to January. The delay policy is followed in the reimbursement of expenses incurred while availing the health care amenities and also hike in the salaries,” he alleged.

Lamenting that the district health officer is blind to the problems encountered by the assistant junior and senior health workers, Gowda said that the district health assistant junior workers have stopped handling the additional responsibilities, apart from the assigned one. He added that the health-related programme data is not sent to the government in the past two months.

He alleged that the zilla panchayat chief executive officer had initiated a meeting concerning the problem on January 1 and had issued instructions to ensure the in-charge payments for the junior assistant health workers who are also handling the additional responsibilities until the recruitment for the vacant posts are made. He complained that the health and family welfare officer has not taken any initiatives concerning the directions issued by the chief executive officer. Gowda also warned that if the situation persisted, the employees would be compelled to take stringent measures seeking justice.
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