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Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Last week Sundergarh police arrested a quack who had been working as a doctor at a government-run health centre. While the mystery of how his fake MBBS degree managed to pass the scrutiny of those who recruited him still remains unresolved there are reports of another charltan masquerading as a doctor in the tribal-dominated district.

This man is reported to be running a pathology lab-cum-medicine store and also prescribing medicines to patients visiting him under the impression that he is a bonafide doctor with authentic degrees. Operation of quacks is nothing new in the state and most have been plying their dangerous trade with virtual impunity.

These impostors flourish by taking advantage of the huge gaps in our healthcare system which leaves much to be desired. Despite the increase in the number of hospitals and health centres in the government sector a large number of interior villages are yet to get the benefits of healthcare. While in some cases health centres are located too far from the villages in other people prefer to avoid these facilities because of lack of proper care.

Health centres in the far-flung areas, mostly in the tribal hinterland of the state, suffer from a shortage of doctors and paramedics. The growing truancy among doctors is further complicating the situation. Given a choice most of the doctors would avoid a posting in a rural hospital and hence play hookey with alarming regularity. They have also been found behaving rudely and indifferently towards the patients visiting these facilities.

The new health policy, when it is announced, will hopefully try to plug these loopholes in our healthcare system. The government has already stated that it is keen to stop the flight of doctors to private sector hospitals is expected to offer them more attractive salaries and perks under the new policy. The brain drain in the health sector must be stopped at all costs.

While plans are also afoot to create more posts of doctors to deal with the current shortfall the number of MBBS graduates coming out of the state is likely to increase with proposals for setting up more medical colleges. Much, however, would depend on the effective implementation of the policy to ensure that there are not only enough doctors in far-flung hospitals but they also serve patients with dedication.

This is important because such experiments have also been carried out in the past but without much success. For example, the government in the past had offered a special package including 100 per cent additional salary to medicos willing to serve in far-flung tribal-dominated areas, especially in the backward Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) belt. Steps like upward revision of doctors’ retirement age have also been taken to draw them to government hospitals.

However, problems continue to plague the health sector resulting, among other things, in the proliferation of quacks who are playing with the lives of people. It is about time the government came up with a policy that addresses these issues effectively and puts an end to the sufferings of common people.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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