The controversy surrounding the alleged abduction of Gonda chief medical officer SP Singh has brought into focus the ongoing recruitment of ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (Ayush) doctors.
With a change in policy opening the doors for the practitioners of the Indian system of medicine, pressure has mounted on the officials to recruit the favourites of the bigwigs in the districts. That perhaps explains why the former minister Vinod Singh allegedly put pressure on the CMO to recruit his favourites as Ayush doctors under the Ashirvad- Bal Swasthya Yojana.
Even at the Ayush unit of the NRHM directorate here, the aspirants can be seen carrying the recommendation letters of ministers, MLAs and MPs for recruitment. The job has become muchsought-after due to a tolerably decent salary (Rs 24,000 per month) and the prospect of posting in the district hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres. Earlier, there were no takes for these candidates.
The aspirants carry such letters though the NRHM directorate has made it clear that the district health society, headed by the district magistrate, and not the directorate, will recruit them.
“Several MLAs and ministers telephoned us for the appointment of their candidates,” said an officer, adding, “since the recruitment process is going on in the district, we told them to contact the district magistrate or the chief medical officer.”
Another health department officer said, “Though the appointment of the Ayush doctors is for one year, there is intense competition among the candidates. The doctors know once they get an appointment letter, they can manage to get an extension even after their contract ends.”
Explaining the demand for the job, another officer said, “Unemployment is forcing postgraduates in ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy to apply for these posts even though they are contractual. As it is, the recruitment process by the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission for regular posts takes a long time and frustrates the candidates.”
The health and family welfare department had decided to scrap the Ayush doctors’ posts at the beginning of the current year. This prompted them to move the Allahabad high court which gave them relief. Acting on the court order, the health and family welfare department renewed the contracts of all the doctors.
The department has already extended the contracts of 1,178 male and 841 female Ayush doctors. The recruitment of another 820 Ayush doctors under the Ashirvad-Bal Swasthya Yojana is in progress in the districts. These doctors posted at the block headquarters will visit schools to examine the students.