Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

People of Odisha had pinned high hopes on healthcare services after the inclusion of the department under the 5T initiative. They expected improvement in healthcare services in rural areas and thought that the healthcare need will be addressed immediately. However, the alleged sorry state of affairs in Khordha district tells a different story altogether.  

Though it sounds unbelievable, in the absence of doctors for over months, pharmacists are attending to patients while sweepers are testing blood pressure and attendants are administering injections. Such a situation reportedly prevails in several healthcare centres in Khordha district. 

At a primary healthcare centre in Khordha’s Deoli, there are two doctors, one pharmacist, and ANM staff along with some other supporting staff. However, doctors reportedly remain missing most of the time and seldom attend to patients. In the absence of doctors, pharmacist is forced to attend to patients. 

“Due to the crisis of doctors and other staff, there are no attendants, staff nurses and sweeper. Therefore, I am forced to attend to patients. We are attending the patients, prescribing medicines, administering injections, doing stitching, and dressing,” says Tusharkant Jagdev, Pharmacist, Deoli Healthcare Centre. 

"There are no doctors here and we are attended by a pharmacist. He prescribes medicines after check-up. Several patients come here, but there are no doctors. We have no other option,” said Brajabandhu Sahoo, a patient.

The situation is no different at Dalatola healthcare centre. Though a doctor is available, a pharmacist at the healthcare centre remains absent. Thus, a sweeper has reportedly taken over the role of the pharmacist. Moreover, measurement of blood pressure of patients is also carried out by a sweeper. 

 The same situation prevails at Gaudanuagaon primary healthcare centre. While patients are yet to see a doctor at the centre, they are attended by pharmacists and attendants. Even ward attendants administer injections to patients. 

Ward attendant Suresh Mohapatra said, “I do dressing of patients, and help doctors when required. I am bound to administer injection when no one else is around.”

Meanwhile, narrating the situation, a patient said, “When I came to check blood pressure, I saw the sweeper checking the BP. When I asked about the results, he said to check it on my own.”

Such a situation is reportedly prevalent across the district. In the absence of doctors, pharmacists, sweepers and ward attendants are running the healthcare centres. 

On the other hand, the chief district medical officer assured of an investigation into the matter when inquired about the situation.

“I got aware of the situation from the media. I will do a surprise visit and inquire about it personally. I will take action against everyone, be it doctor, paramedic, or anyone else, I will take action against everyone,” said Dr Artabindu Nayak, CDMO, Khordha.