Adding insult to the injury of rural medical officers (RMOs), the authority given to the block development and panachayat officers (BDPOs) to inspect their work now is extended to the agriculture development officers (ADOs).
Since June, the MBBS doctors in the rural development and panchayat department dispensaries oppose the discontinuing of medicine supply to these centres for the past 19 months. The agitation that got intensified when the BDPOs got the powers to check how they work.
Even specialist doctors have extended support to the RMOs in their agitation. Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) had taken a suo-motu notice of an HT report of June 20 about the plight of the village population in the absence of medicines. The commission had given the rural development department four weeks to reply but the supply is not resumed.
“No medicine, stationery, drinking water or electricity, besides poor sanitation and thin staff, is the scene at many rural dispensaries of the zila parishad. Adding to the frustration of the doctors is that multiple departments—panchayats, health and family welfare, and now agriculture—have been given the powers to check them,” said Punjab Rural Medical Services Association (RMSA) president Dr Aslam Parvez.
The government attitude towards rural healthcare was forcing doctors to migrate to cities, said Dr Bhavjit Mangat, a member of the association. “How can an agriculture department officer judge the work of a qualified doctor, who is also a Class-1 officer,” said Dr Deepika Puri, state finance secretary of the RMSA, adding: “When it comes to supplying medicines and other basic infrastructure, no one is ready to shoulder the responsibility; but for checking, everybody is enthusiastic.”
Dr Parvez, member of the Indian Medical Services (a body formed in Panchkula last week) working committee, said doctors from the other states were also shocked to know who would inspect our work.
“They told us that even in states such as Bihar, only the senior most official of the rank of deputy commissioner had this authority,” said the doctor.