September 17, 2021 6:49:21 pm
The Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday attacked the state government and said that just like previous dispensations, the ruling Congress government has “completely wiped out” the public health system in the state.
The Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Punjab assembly, Harpal Singh Cheema, said vacancies have piled up in the health sector over the years, and the brunt of this problem was being faced by the rural populace.
“Government health services in rural and remote areas have come to a complete standstill,” he said while addressing a press conference here on Friday.
Cheema claimed that Punjab had the best public health service in the country till 1980. “Unfortunately, Punjab is lagging behind even Bihar in many aspects nowadays. The Congress, Captain, Badals and the BJP are responsible for the plight of the residents. They have deliberately destroyed government health services to promote private health mafia,” he said.
Cheema said that nearly 1,000 of the 4,400 sanctioned posts of doctors in government hospitals in the state are vacant. Whereas, there were hardly any vacancies in 1980 for the same number of posts. The AAP leader also criticised the previous SAD-BJP government and said the latter had abolished 516 posts of specialist doctors.
He said the decision of the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in 2006 to hand over 1,186 dispensaries to the department of rural development and panchayat has cost the rural population of Punjab dearly. He said the SAD-BJP government, during its rule from 2007 to 2017, also did not hand back the rural dispensaries to the health department. Cheema said the decision has led to a spike in corruption.
He demanded that rural dispensaries be handed back to the health department immediately, failing which the Aam Aadmi Party would hold protests. Cheema said the present government was only pretending to fill up the posts of specialist doctors. He said no specialist doctor has applied against the advertisements issued by the government owing to the meagre salary on offer. The AAP leader asked why the notification issued in 1989 for the creation of a separate cadre for specialist doctors has not been implemented till date.
“There are 3,000 sanctioned posts of indoor nurses in about 125 government hospitals across Punjab, out of which 1,000 are vacant; while 1,600 out of 3,000 posts of pharmacists are vacant and out of total 2,800 posts of male workers, about 2,150 posts are vacant. The same situation is true for sanitation and other healthcare staff,” Cheema said.
The LoP further said that there was one rural dispensary for every 10,000 people in 1980, but today the ratio has breached 15,000. He added that there were only 44 tehsil-level hospitals in the state and they, too, were facing an acute shortage of medicines and manpower. Cheema alleged that the government was financially exploiting about 25,000 Asha workers by providing them an honorarium of only Rs 10,605 per month.
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