With malaria cases crossing record levels, political parties are busy holding health camps to provide free check-ups and gain mileage.
But their agenda is spelling trouble for civic hospitals as they almost always “borrow” their doctors to conduct screenings.
Shiv Sena, for example, asked for KEM doctors for camps held on August 4, 6 and 9. Another camp is scheduled for Wednesday. Doctors from KEM, Nair and Sion Hospitals are being sent for camps almost daily, said sources.
This affects services at the hospitals considering they are already short-staffed and many doctors and para-medical workers are down with monsoon-related diseases.
What’s worse is that these camps are being organised in places that already have hospitals nearby. For instance, last Friday, Shiv Sena held a mega health camp at Shirodkar municipal school in Parel, which is opposite KEM Hospital.
Thirty-eight doctors from KEM and Nair Hospital were at the camp through the afternoon.
“It makes no sense to hold camps within city limits where hospitals are within a km radius,” said a doctor on condition of anonymity. A senior doctor said they were “forced to send doctors for camps” because of pressure from the top.
On Sunday, nine doctors from Sion Hospital were sent for a camp organised by Mayor Shraddha Jadhav and the Indian Medical Association in Ghatkopar and KEM doctors were sent for a camp in Lalbaug, organised by Congress leader Nitesh Rane’s NGO Swabhimaan.
Last week, Shiv Sena’s executive chief Uddhav Thackeray appealed to the party’s shakas to hold camps to save the party’s face since the BMC is ruled by the Sena. Dadgu Sakpal from the Sena defended the decision saying: “Hospitals are already so full. We are helping locals by providing free checks-ups.”
Dr Sanjay Oak, dean of KEM and director of major BMC hospitals, said the camps “add to the burden of doctors”. But added that camps were necessary to “percolate the community”. Sources said KEM doctors go for ten to 15 health camps organised by political parties on average per month.
(inputs by Rajendra Aklekar)