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Dearth of doctors ails Odisha health sector, quacks rule roost

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Bhubaneswar: An acute shortage of doctors plagues Odisha, with quacks ruling the roost in rural areas and the urban health sector at the mercy of paramedics and pharmacists.

Despite several schemes launched in the state to improve medical facilities, acute shortage of doctors and specialists has paralysed the healthcare delivery system, even though this capital city is emerging as a health hub with the presence of reputed private hospitals.

Over 3,500 doctors’ posts are lying vacant in three medical colleges and other hospitals in the state. Besides, more than 500 doctors have not joined their duties since long, despite the government slapping notices on them for leaving their place of duty without authorisation, said a senior official of the health department.

While 375 teachers’ posts were unmanned in three government-run medical colleges – SCB medical college, MKCG medical college and VSS medical college – and one dental college, a total of 20 professors, 44 associate professors and 297 assistant professors’ posts were vacant in the medical colleges, Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak told the assembly recently.

Similarly, there is a huge vacancy in the rural areas. Against 4,864 sanctioned posts, only 2,293 doctors are working in government hospitals starting from primary hospitals to district headquarter hospitals, the minister said.

According to the Indian Public Health Standards, there should be at least one doctor for a population of 3,500.

“The state should have 11,540 doctors for its 4.2 crore (42 million) population. But it has a sanctioned strength of 4,864 doctors for government-run health centres,” said an expert.

Recently, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics, popularly known as Sishu Bhawan at Cuttack, had hogged the headlines for a spate of infants’ deaths.

A government report has found that more than 5,900 infants have died while undergoing treatment in the last five years.

Even though the government has taken a number of steps, doctors are not showing any interest to serve in the state.

In order to meet the shortage of doctors, the state government had last year enhanced the retirement age of government doctors from 58 to 60 years, and 62 in the case of the medical college faculty.

In order to retain doctors in the tribal and inaccessible areas, especially the undivided Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi (KBK) districts, the government has implemented a package of incentives with 100 percent additional salary to attract medicos in these pockets. These moves however have failed to attract doctors.

With the absence of doctors in rural areas, quacks rule the roost, taking undue advantage of ignorance and illiteracy of rural people.

“People are being taken for a ride by these quacks not only in rural areas but also the urban areas in the state. A good number of quacks are active in the state and playing with the lives of people. While the Medical Council of India has implemented an anti-quackery law, the state medical council should implement it,” Saroj Sahu, president of Indian Medical Association, Odisha, said.

He said it is unfortunate that the state medical council is in a defunct form for the last 25 years and is managed by one person.

Sahu said the state government has neither identified the quacks nor taken any action against them. It does not have an anti-quackery cell, said sources.

Health Minister Nayak however said that the government is acting against the quacks whenever it receives any complaint from the people.

There are allegations that in interior pockets of tribal districts some quacks producing fake certificates are active in government hospitals at pharmacist level.

“The chief district medical officers (CDMOs) have been asked to inform the police about the quacks in their areas,” Chitaranjan Nayak, director (health services), said.

According to social activists working in rural areas, due to the absence of basic healthcare, villagers are gullible to the services provided by quacks, who are the biggest challenge and roadblock in improving healthcare in rural areas.

(Chinmaya Dehury, IANS)

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Woman IAS officer Gauri Parashar Joshi saved Panchkula when Local Police Ran Away

When violence escalated, Gauri Parashar Joshi went to her office, issued an order to hand over the situation to the Army that helped to reduce the chaos of the situation.  

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Panchkula Voilence
Panchkula Voilence. VOA
  • Gauri Parasher Joshi tackled the ruckus caused by Dera followers
  • She didn’t flee from there even when her clothes got torn and had injuries
  • Had the Army not come in, the residential area would have seen the unprecedented devastation

Panchkula, Haryana, August 28, 2017: Haryana Police ran away from the spot, leaving innocent people in danger when violence caused by Dera followers increased. This happened after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on 25 August 2017.

It was then Gauri Parasher Joshi, Panchkula Deputy Commissioner, IAS officer took matters in her hand to tackle the ruckus caused by Dera followers. When she was trying to calm down the agitators, police guards fled the spot as soon as they saw an angry mob of Dera followers who were coming to attack with stones, sticks.

Also Read: RapistRamRahim: Kamlesh Kumar from Rajasthan Lost his Wife at Dera 2 Years Back

Soon violence increased, but she didn’t flee from there even when her clothes got torn and had injuries. She took a wise decision, went to her office along with a PSO and issued an order by which the situation was handed over to the Army. This was a clever move as it helped to avoid further damage in the situation.

A local expressed his disappointment over the cowardly act of the local police.  According to Economic Times report, Satinder Nangia, a local from Panchkula said “Had the Army not come in, the residential area would have seen the unprecedented devastation. We have been serving the local police with tea and biscuits for last few days, but the moment the Dera followers went on a rampage the local police was the first to run.”  It was the Army which prevented further deterioration of the area.

Also Read: Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Being Treated As Ordinary Prisoner, Clarifies Haryana DGP (Jails)

Gauri Parasher Joshi reached home at wee hours, around 3 am but she went home after going around, checking every place with possible danger in the city and thus making sure that the situation was under control and rioters were not causing any more trouble.

She has served in Kalahandi, the Naxal-affected district in Odisha in the past and may be that helped her in tackling the situation with such competence.Betty Nangia praised the efforts of Joshi, “It’s time the patriarchal state, with abysmally low sex ratio, looks up to such woman and take a lesson or two.” She was disturbed as she witnessed the Army men shooting two Dera followers who were at close proximity from her house, as the locals tried to enter their homes in panic.  We need more woman IAS officers like Gauri Parasher Joshi.


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Maharangajodi Village: The ‘Village of Widows’ in Odisha

The men of Maharangajodi Village are dying of deadly lung diseases, pushing women to battle the misery and survive

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Village of Widows
50 men working in mining company of Odisha lost their lives to a fatal lung disease. Wikimedia
  • The Maharangajodi Village in Odisha is increasingly becoming known as the ‘Village of Widows’
  • The men have lost their lives to deadly lung diseases while the women are expected to carry the burden of survival
  • No compensation has been provided to the widows by the government or the mining company

July 22, 2017: In Keonjhar District of Odisha, the Maharangajodi Village has witnessed the deaths of men because of lung disease. Their women are left with no option but to seek ways of survival in this ‘Village of Widows’.

Also Read: Odisha Felicitates Indian Athletes with Cash Awards at 22nd Asian Athletics Championships

In 1982 a mining company called Pyrophilites was inaugurated in the village. It was responsible for the production of lime and sand stone.

The 50 men in the village, who worked at this mining site and earned living for their families, saw their health being degraded. Gradually, these men became weak and also faced trouble in breathing. It was discovered that the exposure to silica had an adverse impact on the health of these men.

The men lost their lives to deadly lung diseases they had developed over the course of employment. Silica affected the men with a fatal disease known as Silicosis.

The village was branded as ‘Village of Widows’ as none of the workers survived the disease.

The village was branded as 'Village of Widows' as none of the workers survived the disease. Click To Tweet

Pyrophilites was shut down eight years ago. However, no compensation has been given to the women or the families of the men who succumbed to the fatal exposure.

Sarojini Khuntia told Odisha TV, “The company paid very less wages to the men. Even after exploiting them, the company did not do anything to mitigate the problems of the workers diagnosed with respiratory disease. Neither have we been compensated after their deaths”

Furthermore, the government has remained insensitive to the issue. The party in power had failed to provide any compensation or even assistance for these widows to take care of their families.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Odisha launches special action plan to reduce Migration problem in the state and create Livelihood Opportunities

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Workers in India (representational Image), VOA

Bhubaneswar, April 29, 2017: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday announced a special action plan to reduce migration problem in the state and create livelihood opportunities.

Initially, the action plan would be implemented in Bolangir and Nuapada districts. It would be scaled up and replicated in other migration-prone areas in a phased manner, he said.

The special action plan has been prepared for intense action in 30 gram panchayats of the two districts to curb migration and facilitate creation of livelihood opportunities for migrant workers within the state.

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“I am sure the plan would help in providing alternate livelihoods to address migration in Bolangir and Nuapada districts by improving the household income of poor families and reduce their vulnerability,” said the Chief Minister.

He said it would eventually serve as a blueprint for scaling up to other migration prone districts of the state.

It is expected that Rs 134 crore would be spent in the areas.

The Odisha government on Saturday also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tata Trusts to reduce migration in Bolangir and Nuapada districts.

The Odisha government will bring in the expertise of Tata Trusts in developing appropriate information, education and communication (IEC) materials and disseminate it for behavioural change, introduce people friendly and easy to use technologies for registration of migrant workmen and support development of database for welfare of migrant workers.

To strengthen policy initiative, the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRDPR), Hyderabad was requested to conduct a short-term study in the districts of Bolangir, Bargarh, Kalahandi and Nuapada for suggesting alternative avocation/livelihood opportunities for migrant workers.

The NIRDPR report suggested short term, medium term and long-term measures which can be implemented within the existing development initiatives, said a release.

The suggestions of NIRDPR have been incorporated in the agreed activities under the MoU with Tata Trusts to initiate interventions initially in 30 gram panchayats of Bolangir and Nuapada districts, the release added. (IANS)