Operators of Janani Express went on an indefinite strike on Wednesday to protest against the MP government’s move to hand over the contracts of Janani Suraksha Ambulances and 108 services to a single private health service provider — Ziqitza Health Care Limited.
Janani Express which provides 24x7 emergency ambulance services in rural areas, is handled by a separate call centre and its calls and service delivery is verified by respective district health officials.
Janani Express Sanchalak Sagh (JESS), a body of ambulance operators, alleged that Ziqitza has fixed a rate of Rs 16.94 per kilometre with the government but will pay only Rs 8.5 to the operators. At present, the government pays Rs 10 per km to the operators.
Deputy state head of JESS Govinda Gupta told HT, “The state government will pay an additional Rs 760 crore to the health service provider, which cannot be cost-effective anyway.”
According to the health department, this is being done to improve the quality of services.
Recently, Ziqitza declared that they will be the first service providers in MP to give services on a per km basis to motivate drivers to reach the emergency spot.
However, Janani Express operators claim that they have always been under the per km contract.
Ziqitza also said they will install GPS systems to track the Janani express to reduce cases of medical negligence. However, members of JESS claimed that they have been using the GPS system since the beginning.
JESS representatives have given a memorandum to chief secretary MP Anthony De Sa and principal secretary of health Gauri Singh urging them to look into the issue.
“The private operator is conducting a scam. They have been accused by the Rajasthan and Kerala governments and the CBI is probing their case. How could the MP government even think of giving a combined tender to Ziqitza? We have submitted our memorandum and unless the issue is resolved, we will not end the strike,” Gupta said.