The Telegraph
Thursday , March 20 , 2014
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Doctors to prescribe vote pill

- Capital district campaigns for a healthy turnout

Q: How can you keep democracy in the pink of health?

A: Cast your vote

The district administration will rope in government doctors, medical practitioners, paramedics and sahiyas to increase voter awareness before Ranchi goes to polls on April 17.

A paltry 37 per cent of Ranchi’s electorate voted in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Understandably, the office of district election officer-cum-deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey has planned an extensive campaign to ensure a good turnout this time.

One of the first targets is roping in healthcare professionals who are authority figures in the community to tell people why each vote counts and why everyone should exercise their franchise.

All doctors and medical associates such as paramedics and sahiyas at primary health centres, sub-centres, referral hospitals and the like will be asked to tell and convince patients about their electoral rights.

Doctors and healthcare workers will also tell people about polling dates, voting slogans and other details approved by the Election Commission of India.

“Since we have more sahiyas and paramedics, they are our main targets to create awareness as they reach the last mile of connectivity. This apart, government doctors too will have to chip in for good turnout. We are in the process of devising a detailed activity guide that will kick off from March 21 or 22 to go on till April 15,” Ranchi DC-cum-district election officer Choubey said.

Ranchi civil surgeon Dr Gopal Srivastava told The Telegraph detailed dos and don’ts were expected from the DC office within two days.

He also said he was in the process of issuing directives to all doctors and paramedics at block and panchayat levels. “As far as I know, our job is to focus on awareness at block and micro levels through various channels and available resources while attending to patients. We will tell people why it’s important to vote and the importance of walking out of the comfort of home to cast franchise,” Srivastava said.

On the doctors’ prescriptions on electoral rights, the deputy commissioner said they would be distributed soon.

“These are pamphlets primarily about the importance of vote and allied matters approved as per norms which doctors can stamp and distribute among their patients. This personal touch, we hope, will sensitise people. But, no doctor or healthcare professional can canvass for any particular political outfit or candidate. Our entire machinery is working to ensure free and fair polls in Ranchi,” he added.

Ranchi will go to polls along with Giridih, Jamshedpur, Singhbhum, Khunti and Hazaribagh on April 17.

Contacted, East Singhbhum civil surgeon L.B.P. Singh said no such directive had been issued for the prestigious Jamshedpur seat so far but they were expecting something similar to Ranchi.

East Singhbhum district election officer-cum-deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal said a meeting was slated on Friday with Indian Medical Association (IMA) and government doctors to chalk out their strategy for the city.

“We will hold talks with the IMA chapter here and government doctors and ask them and their families to vote. Usually, very few doctors vote. Then, we will ask them to sensitise patients. Word of mouth is the key. A bulk of Jamshedpur’s healthcare is privately manned, so our thrust is broad,” he said.

Will Ranchi’s voter turnout be over 37 per cent this time? Tell