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GPS & webcams to track doctors

Jamshedpur, Aug. 26: Technology will try to cure the malaise that ails healthcare in Jharkhand’s hinterland — absentee medical staff.

Starting September 2, the state will roll out a fleet of 274 ambulances equipped with global positioning system (GPS) and webcams across districts to keep tabs on whether healthcare officials visit remote panchayats or not, state health minister Rajendra Prasad Singh said today.

The minister, now in Jamshedpur, spoke to The Telegraph at the Circuit House on this ambitious plan to pin accountability on civil surgeons across all 24 districts.

“Our objective is to ensure health officials go to panchayats. There have been complaints that doctors and nurses don’t visit government health centres in villages. Civil surgeons don’t monitor where the medical personnel go. The only way to change this is by using technology intelligently and track the lapses,” Singh said.

Broadly speaking, the health department has bought 274 ambulances to be distributed across 24 districts out of a central grant of Rs 716 crore. These vehicles will have GPS trackers and webcams.

While the GPS device will record where the ambulance is going, the webcam will record the medical personnel and equipment — ECG, X-Ray and emergency instruments — that are on board.

Medical teams led by the civil surgeons are supposed to visit sadar hospitals as well as primary and community health centres at panchayat and blocks.

“The principal secretary has instructed all civil surgeons to submit a visit roster for every fortnight, which covers three panchayats a day. K. Vidyasagar, the health department principal secretary, will also constitute a special cell to monitor ambulance locations in real time using GPS software to check if the visit roster is being adhered to or not,” the minister added.

With this, civil surgeons of all districts will send webcam data to health department principal secretary Vidyasagar every day.

District civil surgeons will plan the visit roster in a way that they cover three panchayats every day.

A team of doctor, nurse, X-ray operator and paramedics will accompany the respective civil surgeon in each districts.

“Action will be taken against medical professionals who do not visit rural areas,” the minister said.

Apathy apart, most doctors cite the threat to personal safety as the biggest reason why they don’t venture into the hinterland, especially rebel-hit pockets.

On the security angle, the minister added that they were aware of the ground realities in the interiors and “need-based logistics will be arranged”.

Singh also said that state-owned health hubs and medical colleges in Ranchi, Dhanbad and Jamshedpur would soon be linked with 24/7 solar power.

“Health centres will get solar power during conventional blackouts,” said the minister who also holds power and energy portfolio.


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