By Dheeraj Kumar
Patna: Absentee doctors are only undermining Bihar government’s efforts to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the state.
As the government is trying hard to override the problem, the total number of coronavirus patients has increased to 34 with detection of two more cases in the state on Tuesday. On the face value, the figure does not look very dreary but several sceptics attribute it to low testing.
In such a situation, government is making efforts to bring back absentee doctors to hospitals or getting ready to take strong action against them.
State health minister Mangal Pandey had admitted in the state assembly in March, 2018 that there was one doctor for every 17,685 persons in the state. The national average was 1:11,097. The situation remains largely the same even now.
So, government has not taken the issue of absentee doctors lying down, putting under around 198 doctors scanner for absenteeism. The government has already cancelled leaves of health personnel till April 30 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The health department issued show-cause notices to 76 doctors, absent from duty on March 31 and it was in the process of issuing notices to another 122 who were absent on April 1 and 2, said officials.
The doctors have been given three days’ time to respond to the show-cause notice. According to an official, 40 of them are regular doctors while rest contractual.
They also include doctors appointed on contract under the National Health Mission (NHM) and those practising indigenous medicine (Ayush) under the Rashtriya Bal Suraksha Karyakram.
The state health department had on March 13 issued an order, cancelling leaves, except study and maternity leaves, of health care personnel till March 31 in the view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The government could initiate departmental proceedings if the response of the doctors was not satisfactory.
The State Health Society, Bihar, (SHSB) had on March 31 called doctors on landline numbers at their designated place of posting. Many of the doctors facing the heat are posted at district hospitals, sub-divisional hospitals, primary health centres and additional primary health centres, said a health department official.
On March 17, Bihar had enforced the Epidemic Diseases, Covid-19 Regulation 2020, which was invoked under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 (Central Act 3 of 1897).