The health department has tried but failed to send doctors to interior areas in the state. So it is a challenge to provide medical facilities in these areas. The department also faces a manpower crunch. In such a situation, Dr GS Joshi took over as director general, health on Saturday. He is due to retire in May 2015. In an exclusive conversation with Nihi Sharma Sahani, Dr Joshi talked about the fields he will focus on during the rest of his term. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Efforts of the health department to send doctors to remote areas have failed. Do you have a better plan to solve this problem?
Doctors are unwilling to work in remote areas. The government posts them there, but they fail to join. I think instead of sending old doctors, my priority will be to appoint fresh MBBS students in remote areas. We have successfully deployed MBBS students who passed out of Srinagar Medical College this year. Now, on March 3, we will provide postings to MBBS batch of Haldwani Medical College.
If this plan is followed religiously, we will never have manpower crunch in the state. Most importantly, young students also do not have family issues and thus, can join us. Each student passing out from a government medical college signs a contract to serve the state for at least 5 years.
But will merely deploying doctors help people of remote areas? Don’t you think lack of infrastructure is another hurdle before the department?
Yes it is. Once doctors start working in remote areas, we will strengthen the infrastructure. We hope to receive funds from the World Bank. Basically, my idea is to strengthen areas like radiology, telemedicine and even medical tourism. Telemedicine is an important area which can help us during natural calamities like the disaster in June last year. Through telemedicine, patients living in any part of state can consult doctors immediately. It will help in linking district hospitals and community health centres.
The association with private hospitals does not seem to be working well.
Absolutely not. This year we conducted two health camps in public private partnership mode. Both were supported by private hospitals. This association will help us in reaching out to patients even in far-flung areas.