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HARYANA-Public health crisis looms over city Immunisation, maternity care, and detection and treatment of tuberculosis patients have halted since 600

February 23, 2019 05:35 AM


Public health crisis looms over city
Immunisation, maternity care, and detection and treatment of tuberculosis patients have halted since 600 NHM workers were dismissed
GURUGRAM : Health services such as immunisation of children, maternity care, and detection and treatment of tuberculosis patients, have taken a hit since over 600 workers of the National Health Mission (NHM) were dismissed.

■ A patient waits for a private ambulance at the Civil Hospital.
The NHM workers had gone on a strike on February 5, demanding job security and better pay, following which their services were terminated by the health department last Friday.

Since the strike began, no new case of tuberculosis has been detected or treated, said health workers. “The technician who operates the tuberculosis diagnosis machine at the Civil Hospital also protested. So, patients who come to get tested are being sent back,” said Hari Raj, state general secretary, NHM workers’ union.

He added that the previously notified tuberculosis patients haven’t received the nutritional support of ₹500, which is given every month during treatment. The support is a direct-benefit transfer (DBT) scheme rolled out in April 2018 with an aim to eliminate the infectious disease by 2025. “The service of the accountant in charge of the DBT, a contractual NHM employee, has also been terminated,” said Raj.

Dr Vijay Kumar, district tuberculosis officer, said, “We are trying to find a replacement for both the technician and the accountant positions. As soon as we receive a notification from the mission director, we will begin recruitment. Till then, the process of DBT has been suspended.”

According to Mayank, a pharmacist at an urban primary health centre (UPHC), tuberculosis patients haven’t been administered treatment as the centres have been shut since the strike began. “We made sure we supplied medicines that could last about 20-25 days before the strike. However, since then, there has been no supply,” said Mayank.

Eighteen UPHCS, which receive an average of 2,000 patients at their out-patient departments every month, have been shut since February 5, forcing patients to seek treatment at private hospitals, said health workers. The 18 UPHCS in areas such as Rajiv Nagar, Laxman Vihar, Om Nagar and Patel Nagar, collectively cater to a population of more than 10 lakh, according to data available with the health department.

“No vaccination has been administered to children and mothers for the most part of this month. UPHCS, where about 30 deliveries a month are conducted, have been lying locked,” an NHM worker said.

Sanjeeva Singh, a resident of Dundahera, said his wife had to go to a private hospital on Monday for her delivery as the PHC in the village was shut. “Our first child was born at the PHC in Dundahera three years ago. This time, when we went to the centre, we found it closed. So, we had to rush to the main part of the city for delivery. We had to bear an additional cost but there was no other solution at the last moment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr BK Rajora, civil surgeon, said, “We have outsourced ambulance staff and some other staff to keep services running, for now. Despite warnings, the workers didn’t stop striking, which is why they faced termination from service. More health staff would be hired soon.

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