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Devbrat Patnaik

Berhampur: People who disrespect the health fraternity should face action. Once ordered by CM Naveen Patnaik, these words echoed in the silk city Berhampur as his own government is now being accused of dismissing several contractual healthcare workers, paramedics and pharmacists before the fixed term of three months. The incident has surfaced at a time when Covid situation is deepening in the State.

As per reports, the State government had engaged thousands of trained unemployed healthcare workers on a contract basis to join the battle against coronavirus. The official order of the H&FW department mentioned that these engagements will be temporary for a period of three months only or till Covid Care Homes (CCHs) are functional, in view of the emergency situation arising due to the pandemic.

However, many Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), staff nurses and pharmacists have been on a sit-in protest outside the Ganjam Collectorate since Friday night alleging that they have been terminated before completion of three months without any prior notice.

"For the last 10 days, we have been requesting the Collector to allow our engagement at least for a period of three months as decided earlier. But none has paid heed to our demands," alleged a healthcare worker.

Protesting the government decision, hundreds of health workers feel they have been betrayed and are now demanding re-engagement. They have also threatened to continue their agitation until the district Collector comes up with a concrete decision.

"Whatever decision has been taken is based on government orders and not by district authorities. The decision to engage these health workers was taken by the government, and even disengagement is as per government guidelines. It is up to the government to make a decision on re-engagement, accordingly, the Collector would take the next step. The order had mentioned that engagement is temporary and will be for a period of three months or till situation demands, or terminated anytime depending on the Covid crisis. Now that the district cases have declined, there is no requirement to have so many workers. CDMO has complete details of the guidelines. If at all people are unhappy, they should protest in a democratic way," said a senior official.

Responding to the demands of the healthcare workers, Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange said, "Their engagement was temporary. After Covid Care Centres were closed, the workers were asked not to come for Covid duty. The State government has been apprised of the matter."

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