DIBRUGARH, Feb 20 - While the State Government�s Health Minister is in a tearing hurry to build new medical college buildings all over Assam, the existing ones are facing severe problems, ranging from teacher shortage to hospital stores going empty.
The problem is less acute at the Gauhati Medical College, but at the two other old medical colleges at Silchar and here, faculty crisis has remained unresolved for years on end. The State Government has seriously erred in providing for adequate number of teachers at the medical colleges, both old and new.
At the premier Assam Medical College here, the saga of neglect began with the assumption of power of the AGP in Dispur in 1985. During the last three terms of the Tarun Gogoi Government, some infrastructure development did take place, but the Guwahati-based authorities neglected the perennial shortage of teachers. During MCI inspections, some ad-hoc postings were effected, but students and patients at the medical college here continue to sufer.
As on today, the AMC here has a shortage of about 70 teachers. These include eight posts of professors, 12 posts of associate professors, nine posts of assistant of assistant professors and more than a dozen positions of registrar. Alarmingly enough, these vacancies are in crucial medical departments like Radiology. Then, there is the permanent shortage of ANM and GNM nurses. The AMC hospital has 1,400 beds, and the MCI (Medical Council of India)�prescribed patient to nurse ratio has never been maintained here.
What is more discomforting is that the teacher vacancies have been lingering on for more than a decade now. Staff and teachers� associations have raised these issues with the Government, but have remained unaddressed.
Senior medical college teachers have told this newspaper that the State Health Department, more particularly, the State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will do well to provide for prescribed number of medical teachers at all the medical colleges of the State. They said that otherwise the public should not be blamed if they feel that the race to set up more medical colleges is a criminal attempt to hoodwink the people. These senior doctors said more than the buildings of any medical college, it is quality faculty that has to be guaranteed for real development of the healthcare sector.
Under such circumstances, the Health Minister has to re-draw his priorities, said an octogenarian retired medical teacher. He asked: �How can you build houses that are not manned adequately?� With seventy�plus teaching vacancies in the AMC here, that too for over a decade, is a horrible reflection of the healthcare and medical academics scenario in the State. Sarma needs to ponder and act, immediately.