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Wednesday , January 9 , 2013
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Expert highlights health care ills

The cardiothoracic department of Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital has a surgeon but no operation can be performed because of the absence of an anaesthetist.

Basanti Rural Hospital and Gosaba Rural Hospital in South 24-Parganas cannot perform any ultrasound scan or an X-ray as one has equipment but no technician and the other the opposite.

The mismatch between human resources and equipment has crippled the state-run health care in Bengal, a study by an expert panel has revealed.

The panel, set up by the Mamata Banerjee government last April to suggest a health policy, has recommended a rational transfer regime to end the disparity.

“We have detected several instances of such mismatch at hospitals across the state. If a proper transfer policy is followed, services at government hospitals will improve by at least 20-30 per cent,” panel chairman Subrata Maitra, a critical care expert, said while delivering a lecture at the second workshop on economic growth in Bengal at the Indian Statistical Institute on Tuesday.

“There should be the right person at the right place,” Maitra pointed out.

The survey revealed that Amta Rural Hospital in Howrah district has no anaesthetist. As a result, no gynaecological procedure, the most common of all surgical procedures at a rural hospital, can be performed. The operating theatre at the rural hospital in Karimpur, Nadia, has been lying unused in the absence of an anaesthetist.

“It has been observed that the anaesthetists are stationed at hospitals where there are no surgeons. So in both cases, the surgeons and anaesthetists are not utilised at all,” said Maitra.

Since surgeons don’t get to perform operations at most rural hospitals, they end up performing the role of a general practitioner — examining patients at the outpatients’ department. A waste of critical resource when those in need of an urgent surgery or Caesarian section have to travel long distances to district hospitals or overcrowded medical colleges.

“There is a problem. We are trying to solve this,” said Satish Tiwari, the principal secretary in the health and family welfare department.

A separate study — Health Policy in West Bengal: At The Crossroads, conducted by a team led by Arijita Dutta of the economics department of Calcutta University — also indicated under-utilisation of resources at state-run health care units. The study blamed faulty planning for under-utilisation of 25.52 per cent of doctors and 25.82 per cent of Group D staff at government hospitals.

Dutta, who spoke at Monday’s session of the workshop, highlighted lack of planning in the drug policy, too. “Around 70 per cent of the drug budget is allocated for tertiary hospitals, while secondary and primary health care units are left with little,” said Dutta.