The ambitious School Health Programme under National Rural Health Mission is moving at a slow pace in Jharkhand, thanks to delay in the recruitment of medical officers.
Against a requirement of 388, only 142 medical officers — 21 MBBS, 53 ayurvedic, 49 homeopathic and 19 unani — are currently posted across the state. Most schools are not visited and on rare occasions, children are treated at primary and community health centres.
The programme, which aims to cover 41,000 state-run primary and middle schools, is yet to achieve nearly 50 per cent of its target.
Ajay Kumar, principal of Nagri Middle School, rued the lack of regular check-up facility for his students, “We have nearly 714 children with health cards but officers do not visit as per government norms,” he lamented.
Principal of Karamtoli-based State Middle School S. Prasad echoed him. “The programme was launched in November last year. Medical officers visited our school in July. Thereafter, we have not seen them. Most students in our schools hail from poor families and their parents cannot fund high medical expenses. These children are dependent on us,” he rued.
Dr Manish Ranjan, mission director of Jharkhand Rural Health Mission Society, said the vacant positions would be shortly filled so that the school programme did not suffer. “Today we are going to release the final list of medical officers, who will work on the project, along with their postings,” he said.
In November last year, Jharkhand Rural Health Mission Society under the state department of health and family welfare had invited applications to fill 388 positions of medical officers. Out of these positions, 194 were to be filled by allopathic doctors while the remaining were for doctors from Ayush streams.