Health Secretary irked with doctors not knowing answers even to basic questions

How many times a pregnant woman has to be immunised during the antenatal period? There was no reply from the other side.

How many villages a village health nurse has to cover under outreach programme? There was no answer for this question too. Are you explaining to mothers in rural areas the Government scheme available for them for post-delivery care? Again, there was a total silence.

These were not questions asked in a public health examination. They were posed to some of the block medical officers (BMOs) in Madurai district by the top brass of the State health machinery at a review meeting here on Saturday. And, the top panel which also included Madurai Collector L.Subramanian got furious over the way in which the replies came for various questions.

On seeing the doctors fumbling for answers, senior IAS officer P.K.Bansal, Additional Secretary (Health) and Project Director of Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project, said: “I thought you would know the basics since you are all here for more than five years and you are BMOs. I am only two years old in this department.”

Director of Public Health K.Kulandaisamy, who took charge recently, was visibly upset with the stoic silence maintained by the doctors when simple questions were asked.

“A BMO is unable to say how many times immunisation must be done for antenatal mothers. Please improve your way of working and I am afraid that our doctors and field staff are not doing enough,” he said openly. Mr.Bansal and Dr.Kulandaisamy analysed the performance of PHCs in the district with regard to total number of deliveries taking place, newborn care, immunisation, Government schemes, number of out-patients, school health programme among other things.

Close scrutiny

The PHC at Vellalore came under close scrutiny as the review panel had noticed that 45.70 per cent of the total deliveries in April took place in private hospitals while the PHC share was only 26.17 per cent.

“Have you asked the people of Vellalore why they did not come to the PHC? If it is required, shift pregnant women to government hospitals and not to private hospitals,” Dr.Kulandaisamy instructed the Vellalore BMO.

Institutional delivery position at PHCs in Samayanallur, Therkutheru, Keelavalavu, Thirupparankundram, Kancharampatti, Melakkal, A.Vellalapatti, Valayankulam, Kallupatti, Kulamangalam, Chekkanoorani, Doddappanaikanur, Sathangudi, Saptur, Alligundam, Kallandhiri and Elumalai was also discussed.

In April 2013, the total number of deliveries in the district was 12,560, of which the share of all the 56 PHCs was 24.86 per cent, GHs 41.91 per cent and private hospitals 32.77 per cent. In Madurai Corporation area, the share of private hospitals was 51.47 per cent.

After noticing that school health programme was going slow in some areas, Dr.Kulandaisamy said he had doubts whether it was being reviewed at the level of Deputy Director here. The implementation of National Rural Health Mission and State Health Department programmes were reviewed for Madurai, Theni, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts.