| Renovation dose |
The health department’s decision to whitewash primary health centres, sub-divisional hospitals and other healthcare services ahead of Diwali has drawn criticism from doctors across Bihar.
The decision has come at a time when state-run facilities are bugged by shortage of medicines and equipment.
According to the miffed doctors, making basic drugs and equipment available at the healthcare institutions should be more important for the department than whitewashing the buildings.
Some of the doctors are also of the opinion that the department could have thought of carrying out proper renovation work at the institutions.
Department principal secretary Deepak Kumar had issued a directive on September 27, according to which the primary health centres, sub-divisional hospitals and Sadar hospitals have to be whitewashed ahead of Diwali.
Ranjit Kumar, a doctor associated with Koilwar primary health centre in Bhojpur, said the decision an “eyewash” rather than a whitewash.
“This is simply an eyewash. When there is such a huge crisis of drugs and equipment at the healthcare institutions, what can the department achieve by painting the walls of the buildings? I would have been happier had the department thought of making essential drugs and equipment available at the health institutions. The infrastructure of most of the primary healthcare institutions is inadequate. The government should have first thought of upgrading the facilities. This is an irony of sorts,” said Kumar.
He added that at the Koilwar primary health centre there is in need of separate male and female wards.
“We also need separate training rooms for accredited social health activist (Asha) workers . On Tuesday, when I last visited the outpatient department, I could not find any paracetamol tablets. When there is a crisis in providing even paracetamol, the government should not think about whitewashing. Important surgical instruments in operation theatres are too much to ask for. I would request the government to think about providing such instruments first,” he said.
A doctor at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), who did not wish to be named, also took a jibe at the decision.
“This is height of insensitivity. Why couldn’t the department think about renovation of the healthcare institutions?” asked the doctor.
Some doctors, however, sounded optimistic. Indian Medical Association state president Rajiv Ranjan Prasad said: “In the process of whitewashing, the premises would also get cleaned. An infection-free environment is a must for hospitals. What is the problem if our health centres look good?”
Ajay Kumar, the general secretary of Bihar Health Services Association, also supported the department’s initiative. “Beautification of hospitals would motivate people to visit the government institutions,” he said.