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Doctor is out, for months together

Jabir Mushthari
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Six dispensaries under Corporation facing severe shortage of doctors

Patients’ dilemma:A board announces the absence of doctor at Pallikkandi government dispensary in Kozhikode.
Patients’ dilemma:A board announces the absence of doctor at Pallikkandi government dispensary in Kozhikode.

A small piece of information welcomes patients at the government allopathic dispensary at Pallikkandy, a predominantly a coastal region under Kozhikode Corporation here, these days.

Scrawled on a piece of cardboard hanging from a window is the important but distressing detail —‘ Innu Doctor Illa ,’ (There is no doctor today).

Though the notice apparently pertains only to a single day, the board has been remaining there for almost two months now, say residents of Pallikkandy.

Patients who reach the dispensary in distress have been returning home angry and disappointed all these days.

Many poor people, majority of whom are fishermen, from coastal areas such as Nainamvalappu, Mukhadar, Kuthukallu, and Kundungal come to the dispensary daily for their sundry ailments. Communicable diseases such as viral and dengue fever are reported frequently from this densely populated coastal region.

“The dispensary employs five persons including a sweeper. All are being paid by the government though the basic purpose of the dispensary has not been served for the last couple of months,” says Subair Nainamvalappu, a resident and social worker.

Mukhadar ward councillor Brazilia Shamsudheen told The Hindu that the fate of the Pallikkandy dispensary was not a case in isolation. “Though we brought the issue to the Corporation council several times, the appointment of doctors is getting delayed,” she says.

According to her, dispensaries at places like Pallikkandy cannot do without a doctor even for a single day considering the number and profile of the patients.

In the absence of a bus service that connects the area to the city, people are mostly dependant on autorickshaws. “The autorickshaw fare itself will come to Rs.70 if one wants to go the nearest government hospital at the Beach. This is a big amount for people from the low income group,” says Mujeeb Rahman from Pallikkandy, another resident.

Janamma Kunjunni, standing committee chairperson on health, says all the six dispensaries under the Corporation limits are facing severe shortage of doctors as no one is ready to work for the present scale of pay offered by the government.

“Only a couple out of the six dispensaries under the Corporation has permanent doctors and we are trying to get doctors to the rest of the dispensaries on contract, paying a higher scale as per the NRHM rate,” said Ms. Kunjunni.

According to her, Rs.11,000 is the present monthly payment offered to a doctor while they can get Rs.26,500 under NRHM.

However consent is required from the government to appoint doctors thus. “We have approached the minister concerned to get consent, but sanction is pending,” said Ms. Kunjunni.

Till the consent is obtained, the ‘Doctor Illa’ board will be a fixture at Pallikkandy dispensary.

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