DIBRUGARH, July 26 - Assam�s health service appears to be a farce, at least in the State�s highly industrialised district here. No matter how many health schemes are launched each year for the needy people through gorgeous ceremonies, adequate medical staff and holistic health care service still remains to be achieved.
Even when much has been hyped about mother and child care services by the National Health Mission (NHM) and UNICEF, a pregnant woman still requires travelling more than a 70 km bumpy road to the city here for medical needs because of lack of proper medical facilities and absence of concerned doctors in the nearby health centres. A case of miscarriage was once reported when a woman delivered inside the ambulance near Lahoal while being rushed to Assam Medical College and Hospital from Tingkhong.
The 100-bed Naharani Community Health Centre (CHC) caters to a huge population of over two lakh of both Tingkhong and Naharkatia LACs. Given the vast area and rush of patients in the health centre, there is a requirement of additional 12 doctors including a gynaecologist and a medicine specialist besides other medical staff, according to Dr Biswajit Baruah, Sub-divisional Medical and Health Officer, Naharani, BPHC.
Similarly, several health centres are hit by shortage of manpower, both doctors and paramedical staff in the district. Some of the proposed health centres including a 100-bed civil hospital at Naharkatia in the district are non-functional due to shortage of medical personnel.
Dr Udayon Baruah, the Joint Director, Health Services when asked, admitted that there is a shortage of manpower in the Health Department. When asked how many sanctioned posts were lying vacant, the Joint Director said that it would be difficult to reveal the exact number of vacant posts immediately.
He further said that some of the newly-constructed health centres have not been handed over to the Health Department yet. However, it is interesting to note that the pharmacists were recently appointed under NHM in those newly-built health centres despite the fact that no doctors and other medical staff are appointed there. These pharmacists are now engaged either in Block PHCs or CHCs by the local Health Department. �The pharmacists will be asked to go to their assigned centres as soon as doctors are appointed there,� the Joint Director told this newspaper.
It must be mentioned here that pharmacists were appointed under NHM recently in 16 different health centres in the district. The health centres include Dhaman Halmari PHC, Dichang Rongsowal PHC, Lengeri Model Hospital, Panitola BPHC, Mohmari Merbil PHC, Rohmoria PHC, Jokai Model Hospital, Sepon Chakalia PHC, Telpani Chahorikota PHC, Tengakhat Model Hospital, Tipom Fakial PHC, 2 No. Guraghas PHC, Tengakhat BPHC, Lezai Kalakhowa Model Hospital, Chabua Model Hospital and Bhadoi Paanchali PHC. However, majority of these health centres are non-functional as no doctors or other medical staff have been appointed.
Further, the so called 100-bed civil hospital at Naharkatia built in 2012 is already under ruins and is turning out to be a shelter for straying cattle. The wooden doors and windows have also begun to rot. The construction of this proposed hospital and five other model hospitals in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts were announced in 2010 when Congress leader-turned BJP strongman Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma was the Health Minister during the Congress-led State Government. Several structures built for the purpose of health centres in the district are in an abandoned state. The concerned health officials here say that those structures have not been handed over to the Health Department and posts have not been created for those health centres.
�We have asked the Government to create posts and have intimated our requirement,� said Dr Udayon Baruah, the Joint Director of Health Services.
On several occasions, the Health Department attempted to post medical personnel under NHM to meet their requirement in some of the health centres but it is gathered that doctors are not interested to serve under NHM. The PG aspiring MBBS doctors on compulsory rural posting also leave after short service in the government health sector for their higher medical studies. If the present state of affairs continues, the desired proper health care facilities will remain a distant dream for the people of the region.