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Monsoon leash on truant doctors

Faced with a slew of monsoon-related health threats in the hinterland, Bokaro deputy commissioner (DC) Uma Shankar Singh has sent strict instructions to civil surgeon and government doctors to be punctual and attend their postings regularly, failing which they will face action, including suspension.

A day after the DC directive on July 2, on Thursday, Bokaro civil surgeon Dr S.N. Singh sent a similar order to all doctors, stressing on attendance, particularly in rural postings in eight Bokaro blocks, including Naxalite-hit Gomia, Petarwar and Nawadih.

According to sources, people as well as Gomia MLA Madhowlal Singh have complained to the Bokaro DC about truancy of doctors and health staff from government-run health centres.

Though largely prevalent across the hinterland, the problem of absenteeism gets more acute in Naxalite-hit areas as doctors plead rebel threat. Also, after sunset, almost all government-run medical centres in rural areas simply shut shop.

According to Indian Medical Council Code (2002), Acts 7.23 and 7.24, truancy of doctors and medical negligence amount to “misconduct”.

But in Bokaro, as diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, cholera, gastrointestinal problems, skin diseases and even snakebite stalk rural areas during monsoon, absenteeism of government doctors and other health staff is the norm.

At a time when diarrhoea, the most common ailment in monsoon, is being widely reported from Chas muffasil area, Chandankyari, Nawadih, Gomia and Kasmar, medical attention is falling way short of requirement.

It is an open secret that most doctors, instead of attending block hospitals or primary health and community centres regularly, concentrate on running their own lucrative private practice.

Government salary that doctors draw is treated by most as “extra income”.

People have also complained that civil surgeon Singh does not take necessary disciplinary action against truant doctors.

Though civil surgeon Singh has claimed to have constituted a taskforce of doctors and paramedical staffs in each of the eight blocks to tackle monsoon diseases, villagers are highly dissatisfied.

Now, as Bokaro prepares to put its public health system into order, civil surgeon Singh stressed he was doing all he could.

“We are keeping close tabs on doctors and block medical teams have distributed medicines, bleaching powder and medical equipment to health centres. We have disinfected all the wells in villages of the district with bleaching powder and told the masses to boil drinking water and eat freshly cooked food only,” civil surgeon Singh claimed.

Also, phone numbers of all leading doctors and hospitals have been flashed in newspapers as well as put on banners installed at key points — sadar hospital in Bokaro, the civil surgeon’s office, all the block hospitals and health centres.

However, Bokaro DC Singh said he would conduct “surprise inspections of health centres in the district to see what is the actual situation”.

“I want to see if the rural masses are getting all free medical services and medicines they are entitled to. Government doctors should do their duty sincerely or be ready to face necessary action according to norms,” he said.