HC cracks whip on govt
The high court on Friday directed the state government to send doctors to a primary health centre in South 24-Parganas that has been running without one for the last five years.
A division bench of Calcutta High Court, comprising Chief Justice T.B.N. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee, issued the order that doctors should be sent to Mohmejgarh under Joynagar police station in South 24-Parganas within four weeks. They also directed the government to ensure that at least one doctor was present at the health centre round-the-clock.
The order was issued following a petition by the villagers alleging that for the last five years there has been no doctor at the health centre where nurses and other employees take care of patients and provide primary health care.
Moving the petition on behalf of the villagers, advocate S. Roy told the bench: “The health centre was established 10 years ago to provide primary health care to the villagers as the nearest major health-care establishment, Baruipur Sub-divisional Hospital, was 60km away from Mohmejgarh. But for the last five years, there has been no doctor at the health centre and nurses and other staff provide preliminary health care to the villagers.”
“From Mohmejgarh to Baruipur the road is very narrow and congested and cycle vans and motorised vans are the only modes of transport. Many villagers often succumb to their ailments while on their way to the Baruipur hospital,” the lawyer said.
The lawyer also said that villagers had approached the district magistrate and even wrote to chief minister Mamata Banerjee demanding immediate appointment of at least one doctor at the health centre. “But that has yielded no result till date. The villagers then decided to approach the high court to seek justice,” he said.
Asked by the Chief Justice about the absence of doctors, state counsel Tapan Mukherjee said: “Due to the scarcity
of physicians, doctors cannot be sent to some primary health centres. To solve the problem, the state government has already decided to recruit 10,000 doctors with immediate effect.”
The division bench then ordered that “the state government will have to sent at least one doctor who should be present at the health centre on a 24-hour-seven-day basis”.
Bengal’s rural health care is ailing for decades and public health experts have said inability to send doctors to work outside big cities was responsible for the situation.
The state government has tried several options, including offering incentives, to send doctors to rural areas, but the shortage still remains, said health department sources.
In August, the chief minister, who is also the health minister, had cited the problem of shortage of doctors while inaugurating a cathlab at SSKM Hospital.
.She had said: “We recently sought applications from doctors against 820 vacant posts. But we received only 105 applications. Only 101 of them turned up for counselling and 39 of them finally joined. What can I do?”
Sources said majority of the vacant posts were in rural healthcare establishments.
Mamata had underlined this problem when she had said “If anybody does not want to go to the villages, what can I do?”