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Doctors’ shortage: pharmacists in Odisha hospitals allowed to prescribe drugs for some ailments

A view of a community health centre in Kalahandi district of Odisha.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In a bid to overcome difficult situations due to the absence of doctors, the Odisha government has allowed pharmacists to dispense drugs to patients for 12 diseases.

“Many of the single doctor hospitals in the State are managed by the pharmacists in absence of doctors due to some reason or other. It is difficult to manage the said hospitals without any specific government orders entrusting the pharmacists for treatment of patients and list of ailments to be treated by them,” said the Department of Health and Family Welfare in a communication.

It said, “in order to overcome the difficulties, the government after careful consideration has been pleased to decide that in partial modification to earlier department order, the pharmacists are entrusted to dispense the drugs for ailments for treatment in absence of doctors.”

From henceforth, pharmacists can dispense drugs to patients suffering from upper respiratory tract infection, malaria, fever, scabies, ring worm, helminthiasis, diarrhoea, minor injuries without medico legal cases, superficial burns, drainage of abscess and some disease control programmes.

Pharmacists cannot prescribe drugs which are not available in Niramaya — a free drug supply scheme. Drugs for particular diseases have been clearly mentioned in the government order.

The Odisha government has long been facing acute shortage of doctors in the State. “As against sanctioned posts of 8,729, we have currently 7,443 doctors including contractual doctors and those who have been deputed to different medical colleges in position,” said Subhananda Mohapatra, Joint Secretary in State Health Department.

The situation is particularly worse in primary health centres in remote districts. In order to address doctors’ shortage issue, the government had earlier increased the retirement age of doctors, made deployment of newly recruitment doctors in KBK (Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput) region mandatory and had even amended existing service rules to allow medical graduates from other States to serve in Odisha. Doctors in the KBK region are paid higher salary than their counterparts in the coastal region.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 5:24:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/doctors-shortage-pharmacists-in-odisha-hospitals-allowed-to-prescribe-drugs-for-some-ailments/article36625307.ece

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