Nagaon, Aug. 23: The decks are being cleared to give the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council a free hand in executing schemes under the National Rural Health Mission.
The council, constituted under the Sixth Schedule, can recruit healthcare personnel, except doctors, and can independently execute development projects under the mission from now on.
However, the state government will retain control over large projects that require more technical and administrative inputs.
The decision was taken during a recent joint sitting of health department representatives and council members in Dispur.
The council’s chief executive member, Debojit Thaosen, said the decision would help end the manpower crisis in the health department in the district and ensure its smooth functioning.
“Normally we depend on Dispur even for a small task under the mission. Even in emergencies, we have to wait for a signal from the state government. Non-availability of required manpower in the right places also delays work. We hope all these will come to an end, as the new system will help us recruit sufficient manpower, preferably local, to streamline working of the department,” he said.
Apart from a civil hospital at the district headquarters of Haflong, the Dima Hasao health department has two community health centres (CHC) at Maibong and Umrangso, five public health centres, three state dispensaries and 65 sub-centres under it.
“We have not been able to upgrade the two community health centres to first referral units because of the manpower crisis. The Umrangsu CHC has three doctors, including a homoeopath and an ayurveda practitioner. The condition of the Maibong CHC is the same. We have an ophthalmologist, a medicine specialist and an ENT surgeon in Haflong civil hospital but no anaesthetist for surgeries. Most of the sub-centres are functioning with single nurses. If Dispur had given full authority to the council to recruit staff, including doctors, trained manpower could have been employed locally or from neighbouring districts,” a health department source said.
More than 30 medical officer posts are lying vacant in the district, the source added.
Thaosen said Dispur had recently agreed to spend Rs 20 crore for modernisation of the three major health institutions in the district — Haflong civil hospital and the two community health centres.
“We plan to go for better healthcare facilities in remote areas. For this, increased manpower, especially more doctors and specialists, is the most important thing for us and we promise to fulfil this need at any cost,” Thaosen said.