Poll duty takes a toll on health facilities, pre-monsoon checks
With approximately 40% frontline health workers pulled off duty for election work, officials said it’s affecting patients dependent on primary health facilities and the possibility of more monsoon diseases owing to lack of surveillance.Updated: Mar 28, 2019 04:12 IST
Next month’s general elections have brought primary health facilities and pre-monsoon surveillance to control infectious diseases in Mumbai to a near standstill, according to officials.
With approximately 40% frontline health workers pulled off duty for election work, officials said it’s affecting patients dependent on primary health facilities and the possibility of more monsoon diseases owing to lack of surveillance.
Recently, senior public health officials wrote to Izdes Kundan, assistant municipal commissioner (health), complaining about staff being pulled off duty for election work since the second week of March.
“I have received the letter and we have forwarded it to the city collectors as duties are assigned by them. Such issues do come up during elections and most times, the important workforce, directly related to people’s health or education is omitted,” said Kundan. However, officials said there hasn’t been any change in the situation and in many wards, the entire staff from public health or pre-monsoon surveillance teams have been pulled off duty.
“March to June is a crucial period for us to complete pre-monsoon surveillance ti minimise the chances of spread of malaria, dengue, chikungunya and leptospirosis. In some areas such as Ghatkopar, 100% of the staff are training for elections,” said a senior official.
The officials, in the letter, have appealed that while they are happy to contribute to election duties, the training period can be shortened and civic staff from departments not related to people’s health or welfare, can also be used. Sachin Kurve, collector, Mumbai suburbs, said, “Only a handful of health workers are now involved in election duties. Workers have to attend a half-day training session and do half-day work in the second week of April,” said Kurve.
First Published: Mar 28, 2019 04:12 IST