20 Jan 2023 6:38 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the state government to take stern action against the doctors who do not join posts in tribal areas which have high number of child deaths due to inadequate medical facilities.The state informed a division bench of acting Chief Justice S. V. Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep V. Marne that it has issued show-cause notices to 52...
The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the state government to take stern action against the doctors who do not join posts in tribal areas which have high number of child deaths due to inadequate medical facilities.
The state informed a division bench of acting Chief Justice S. V. Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep V. Marne that it has issued show-cause notices to 52 specialist doctors for not reporting to their posts of deputation in the Melghat region of the state.
“The government is required to take stern action against such doctors who fail to join the post of deputation…Life of children is precious. The state authorities shall consider in bright earnest appointment of medical officers as per the sanctioned posts in the PHCs, more particularly in tribal regions”, the court added.
The court was hearing a 2007 PIL related to high number of child deaths due to malnutrition and lack of adequate medical facilities in the tribal areas of the state. The petitions seek specialist doctors, nutrition and health facilities for children and expectant mothers.
From April 2022 till date, 205 children under the age of six years died in Melghat, according to activist Bandu Sane. He added that 207 children under five years died till from April to October 2022 in Nandurbar district.
The Public Health Department submitted a detailed compliance report on short term and long-term actions taken by the state to address the issue.
According to the report, there are only 6 specialist doctors in the rural hospitals of the Melghat region out of which only 1 is regular and the other five are on a contractual and deputation basis.
Assistant Government Pleader Neha Bhide and Assistant Director General of the State Health Department Dr. DG Chavan also told the court that the recruitment process for 226 medical officers across the state was underway.
The court asked the state to place on record how many medical officers are appointed in Melghat and Nandurbar specifically.
AGP Bhide informed the court that the employment scheme does not provide for appointment of specialist doctors in primary health centres (PHCs) as the specialists are required only in serious cases.
However, considering the serious situation of Melghat, specialist doctors are appointed on a deputation basis, she said. It was submitted that 21 paediatricians and 31 gynaecologists did not report for deputation in the last two months and the aforementioned notices were issued.
In the meantime, Bhide said, on January 10 the state has ordered the deputation of 27 more specialised doctors to the area.
The court pointed out that the period of deputation is very small. It further asked why the deaths are not coming down despite state’s measures.
Bhide said that the deaths are not just happening after birth and malnutrition is also a problem. She said that the malnourished children are categorized into moderately acute malnourished (MAM) or severely acute malnourished (SAM). Children between the age of six months to six years are provided with nutrition by the state, she said. SAM children should move to either MAM or normal nourishment after this. However, some are not able to receive the nutrition due to issues such as migration Bhide submitted.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar for the petitioners pointed out the high number of vacancies in Nadurbar district of not only doctors but also support staff.
Sane submitted that he visited the PHCs in Nandurbar district two days before the hearing, and three out of 11 PHCs do not have even a single MBBS doctor.
The state informed the court that the core government committee that looks into the issue was going to conduct a meeting on Friday after five months. The court said that Sane, who is also a member of the committee, can place all the facts before it so that appropriate steps can be taken.
Case no. – PIL/133/2007
Case Title – Dr. Rajendra Sadanand Burma and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.
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