Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 28:
Health services in the Odisha Capital are clearly in the wrong hands as pharmacists double up as doctors while government appointed doctors spend much of their time in private nursing homes.
To see the condition of the healthcare services in the city, our investigative team yesterday reached the primary healthcare center in Unit-III area of the city at about 10:20 AM. But to our utter surprise, we were not able to see the doctor and found his chamber locked though a board in the premises proclaimed that the morning operating hours of the center are 8 AM till 11 AM,. One of the hospital staff, mistaking us for a patient, was kind enough to advise us to consult the pharmacist and take the required medicine.
Upon further questioning, he said that the doctor was there, but left early as he had some pressing matter to attend to.
We found there were about 3-4 patients consulting the pharmacists and 2-3 more waiting outside to consult. Two women arrived there while we were waiting, but they chose to go back after finding that the doctor was absent.
Upon questioning another staff of the healthcare center, we found out that the doctor had not come to the hospital at all. He asked us to revisit in the evening hours when the doctor would be there. The center closed at 11 AM as usual.
Our visit gave us a first hand account of the state of affairs in the hospital and convinced us that the allegation that pharmacists are taking over as doctors in these centers was not that far-fetched after all.
ADMO-PH Banalata Devi, was dismissive about the pharmacist issue but assured us to look into the absence of the doctor when we spoke to her.
“The pharmacists can act as doctors in their absence. Patients would be referred to other hospitals in case of emergency,” she said while adding, “The doctor who earlier worked there has been promoted. An AYUSH doctor has been appointed there. The condition is the same in other three centers of the city where AYUSH doctors are running the centers. I would look into the absence of the doctor in Unit-III center”.
The National Urban Healthcare Mission has recently taken up the development work of these facilities. The walls have been painted well and awareness messages drawn all over. However, without the doctors, these expenses make no sense.