With the government allegedly failing to implement a crucial Act that makes a three-year rural stint for medicos compulsory, there seems to be no end to the misery of patients in rural pockets of the state.
The Karnataka State Civil Services (Regulation of Transfer of Medical Officers and Other Staff) Rules Act was officially implemented this May, but its impact hardly could be seen on the hinterlands.
Of around 2,310 Public Health Centres in rural areas across
the state, but more than 200 do not have a single doctor
Thousands of patients continue to await medical help and suffer in case of emergencies in the rural areas.
Drawing flak from all quarters for dragging their feet on assigning fresh medical graduates in rural areas, the State Health ministry has now asked for more time.
No database yet
The State Health Department was supposed to prepare a database of its 45,000 employees by the end of July, based on which medicos would be transferred on deputation to rural areas.
However, the department has missed the deadline and has now issued the end of November as the new deadline.
Of the 2,310 Public Health Centres in rural areas, there is a shortage of over 200 doctors.
In January, the state government passed the Karnataka State Civil Services (Regulation of Transfer of Medical Officers and Other Staff) Rules Act, but failed to implement the Act rigidly.
"We have initiated the project, but we have a huge task ahead as we have to convert all documents into digital format.
Also, often officials bring in incomplete reports, which then have to be sent back," said S Selva Kumar, Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission.
The pace at which the database is being prepared now, it seems postings will take place only by April/May 2012.
"The database is expected to be ready by November end and based on this, the vacancy lists will be put up in April/May," added Kumar.
The unceremonious delay brings with it a nagging fear of mass transfers for doctors.
According to doctors, succumbing to mounting public pressure, the health department may start mass transfers to save its skin.
"Though we have welcomed that Act, we fear that the department would randomly start transferring doctors from North Karnataka to South Karnataka and vis-a-vis.
This is unacceptable and impractical. We hope they address this issue by keeping the geographical preferences of doctors in mind," said H N Ravindra, President, Karnataka Government Medical Officers' Association (KGMOA).
"There is a shortage of 200 doctors in PHCs, but we plan to fill these vacancies soon," Kumar added.
Others, however, claim that doctors are not interested in working at government hospitals.
"There is a shortage as doctors are in huge demand. They can easily earn much more in private hospitals.
To attract doctors to work in rural areas, the government should work towards more employee friendly policies," said H N Ravindra, KGMOA.