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Walk in interviews for docs, concern over quality

Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar

bhopal Updated: Nov 28, 2017 17:04 IST
Punya Priya Mitra and Shruti Tomar
Madhya Pradesh,Bhopal,MBBS

The health department in Madhya Pradesh is trying to fill up vacancies in vacant primary health centres (PHCs) through walk in interviews of MBBS doctors, but many senior doctors are deeply concerned about the quality of these doctors being recruited and their likely commitment towards their work.

Every Wednesday MBBS doctors queue up at the National Health Mission office in Bhopal to take part in the walk-in-interviews for contractual jobs for one year at the PHCs for a measly sum of Rs 50,000 per month.

“With the National Family Health Survey IV (NFHS) of 2015-16 putting Madhya Pradesh in the bottom on the heap in most health parameters, these are desperate times for the health department. There are large number of vacancies in both PHCs and also in the Community health centres, but at present we are focusing on the PHCs, because they are the first point of contact of the people with the health department and curing a disease at the first step will go a long way in improving the health of the people,” a health department official said.

According to figures available with the National Health Mission, there are 383 primary health centres in the state which are without any doctors, even though the infrastructure is present. Interviews have been going on since October and so far 150 MBBS doctors have passed the interview and given their consent to join the health centres.

But many senior doctors are skeptical about these recruitments. Dr Madhav Hasani, MP Medical Officers Association general secretary says, “We understand the compulsions of health department, but what about the quality and commitment of the doctors being recruited? The health department mandarins are just filling up the slots to show that everything is fine with the health of the state, but will this reflect on the ground?”

Doctors like Hasani argue that to be effective, a doctor needs commitment and these MBBS doctors will be fine for common ailments like cold and fever not for speciality.

“This is very good move but government should first decide the priority of providing treatment to patients in MP. These doctors are ok for basic facilities but not for strengthening the health facilities in MP. Many have not got anywhere else or want peace and quiet to prepare for their PG exam. They will somehow perform their duty at the PHCs and then do their own thing. There must be a monitoring system to track their record because most of them will get discharge from their duties by referring the patients to district hospital, ” said Dr Padmakar Tripathi.

The senior doctor’s view is echoed by doctor who has decided to take up this offer. “I am preparing for my PG and this is an ideal platform. Though not much, I will still get paid and will have plenty of time for preparation,” said a doctor who are waiting for their interview, requesting anonymity.

The question of measly pay is also there. A PG student at the Hamidia Hospital in Bhopal, who did not want to be named candidly assessed the situation, “The average salary for a fresh MBBS recruit in any private hospital in Delhi and other metros is between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.25 lakhs. So who will join here for the poor salary and what kind of experience will he get at the PHCs that he can flaunt in his CV? It is only those who are in the bottom of the heap and have no jobs or those who are preparing for their PG exams will come.”

Principal secretary health Gauri Singh when asked to comment on the quality of the doctors said, “All these doctors are from medical universities that are inspected and accredited by the Medical Council of India which only gives certification if these colleges maintain a certain standard. So far as their commitment is concerned we will be monitoring their work and take action if necessary.”

She said vacancies in PHCs were a cause of concern because they are the first interface with public. “For example many preventable deaths from pneumonia can be prevented in rural areas if they are doctors at PHCs who will detect it early.”

Asked about the likely success of the policy she said, “It is too early to say, but many other states have tried it before and now at least we will have doctors at PHCs where there were none earlier.”

Social activist Ajay Dubey said, “Thanks to the Vyapam scam it is suspected that many of the doctors who entered medical colleges through unfair means are not competent and are not getting jobs anywhere. This might become a dumping ground for such doctors. There should be proper police verification to see that no such doctor enters the health department and their performance should be closely monitored.

IN BOX

Total population being catered to per PHC

20,000 in tribal areas

30,000 in non-tribal areas

Shortage in number of doctors in PHCs - 2000

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 17:04 IST