In damage-control mode after poor show in the recent parliamentary polls, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal’s prescription of drug-de-addiction drive has come sans doctors. Launched last week by Sukhbir, the drive has put the health department, which has just 34 psychiatrists on its rolls, in a tizzy.
Sukhbir has asked the police administration to get drug addicts to deaddiction centres in government hospitals and community health centres. In the latter, SMOs and medical officers are being given a day’s training to counsel addicts.
Sukhbir is reported to be abroad after announcing the home department’s threepronged war against drugs. Interestingly, not only the civil hospital in his own constituency, Jalalabad, does not have a psychiatrist, but also the other two centres at Fazilka district hospital and civil hospital at Abohar. All three are being handled by medical specialists from general OPDs. Fazilka is also the home district of health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani, who resigned on Tuesday as part of the BJP’s cabinet reshuffle plan.
“The mobile vans are getting many patients for drug de-addiction. We have three centres at Fazilka, Abohar and Jalalabad government hospitals which are being attended by medical specialists. We have also outsourced services of private doctors for centres at Abohar and Jalalabad civil hospitals while one psychiatrist will be joining the centre at the district hospital,” Fazilka civil surgeon Baldev Raj said.
While doctors attending to the rush at the centres revealed it had affected the functioning of the general OPD and IPD services at the district and civil hospitals, director (health) Dr Kiranjit Singh claimed that at presnt 34 psychiatrists and 21 psychiatric social workers were providing services at the deaddiction centres. “No general doctor is attending to drug de-addiction centres. We have also requisitioned doctors from the institute of mental health, Amritsar,” he said.
Coming next is the walkin interviews for recruiting psychiatrists. The department will fill 157 posts of psychiatrists and other specialists through the interview to be held on June 28 to overcome the shortage. There are a total of 31 de-addiction centres under the department. Five are coming up as model centres.