Eight government ayurvedic dispensaries and the lone ayurvedic sehat kender in Faridkot district are on a deathbed, courtesy lack of interest from authorities concerned. All posts of aryurvedic doctor (called ayurvedic medical officers or AMOs) in Faridkot are lying vacant. The headless dispensaries are no longer able to function, sources in the district ayurvedic department have said.
The posts exist on paper only. "If there are qualified doctors and good building, more people will visit the ayurvedic centres," said resident of Faridkot. The ayurvedic sehat kender near Talwandi road is a crumbling, two-room building in the middle of a slum. Plaster is peeling off its walls and the old roof of the verandah is on the verge of collapse.
The centre's handpump is out of order, so no drinking water for visitors can be expected. Officially, an AMO and a vaid (pharmacist) are posted here, but in reality, a solitary nurse attends to patients three days a week. On the remaining working days, she works at another ayurvedic dispensary at Ambedkar Nagar in Faridkot.
"Some patients still visit the kender and the dispensary," said the nurse, who does whatever she can to treat the patients. "The appointment of doctors alone would help the patients." Besides nine posts of the AMO, four of nine posts of 'vaids' are lying vacant in the district. The only sanctioned posts presently filled are of two Class-IV workers.
Most government ayurvedic dispensaries are situated in villages, and none exists in Kotkapura and Jaitu towns that have sizeable population. In June 2009, under the Indian systems of medicine, a special programme of the Centre, Faridkot's first clinic of alternative therapies (homoeopathy, unani, ayurveda, and siddha) opened in the Civil Hospital. A 'vaid' is its only employee. Similar clinics opened across the districts.
An AMO visits the clinic once a week. Earlier, when a qualified doctor sat at the centre, the outpatient department was packed with an average of 70 people a day, a number that has fallen to just 15.
"There is a market for ayurvedic treatment," said a source in the department concerned. "The system has the best treatment for arthritis and skin diseases. Patients try it when modern medicine fails to help."
The clinic is short of money for even toiletries, tablecloth and towel. The employees have to buy the items for office. The dispensaries are opened in dharmshalas (charitable inns) or other rented places. The entire infrastructure ayurvedic medicine in the district is crumbling, depriving a population of nearly 6 lakh of an option in treatment.
"The posts are vacant because some doctors have retired and others transferred," said district ayurvedic officer Parduman Singh. "The government advertised nearly 135 posts of ayurvedic doctor but a writ petition in court delayed the recruitment." He denied that the posts were vacant for long.
"On May 28, the high court vacated the stay on filling more than 130 posts of the AMO, and the process has begun," said a source placed highly in the department.
"A order for medicine worth Rs 2.70 crore is placed with the union government, and medicine worth Rs 30 lakh has been supplied to the ayurvedic medicine store at Patiala," he added.