The staff posted at government dispensary at Dholewal in Ludhiana are charging Rs 2 from patients for issuing them prescription/registration slip which should otherwise cost only Re 1.
During a visit on Wednesday to the government dispensary, when free vaccination to infants is administered, this reporter came across parents of children who were charged Rs 2 as 'parchi' fee. Women waiting to get their babies vaccinated confirmed that each one of them had paid Rs 2 for getting the prescription slips made.
Requesting anonymity, a woman said that she had paid Rs 2 as fee, after which medicine for her child was also given by the dispensary staff. She expressed ignorance when pointed out that there was no need to get a slip made in case the child had no medical problem.
Two other women present there maintained that they never asked the dispensary staff the reason for charging them Rs 2 instead of Re 1 fee fixed by authorities.
When asked to comment, medical officer Dr Mandeep Kaur maintained that they were not charging any money for vaccination since it was free of cost. She claimed that Rs 2 was charged as 'parchi' fee as the dispensary also provided medicines to children. When pointed out that the fee had been fixed at Re 1, she commented that they were not charging much, adding that the dispensary was facing shortage of medicines. She showed cough syrup bottles and claimed that they had bought these medicines from their pocket for the patients.
During a visit to dispensary at nearby Bhagwan Nagar, a woman patient maintained that no fee was charged for vaccination of children, adding that even the medicines were given free of cost to her child there.
Sources revealed that complaints had been received about several other dispensaries where as much as Rs 5 was charged for vaccination, which otherwise should be free of cost.
When contacted, assistant civil surgeon Dr KS Saini asserted that no fee was charged for vaccination and that there was no need to get any slip made for this facility.
"If a child is examined, only then a slip fee of Re 1 is charged while there was no extra charge for medicines," he added. Dr Saini maintained that nobody could charge Rs 2 for the slip, assuring that he would look into the matter.