In rural areas, 87% of posts of specialists, including surgeons, obstetrics and gynecologists, physicians and pediatricians remain vacant in community health centers (CHC) across Chhattisgarh, despite the state government adopting a carrot and a stick approach.
Out of the total 628 sanctioned posts of specialists, 550 remain vacant, according to the latest data on rural health statistics (2014-2015) of ministry of health and family welfare. In Madhya Pradesh 70% of posts are vacant (with only 263 posts filled against a sanctioned strength of 897 posts), Odisha has a vacancy of 60.7% (552 posts against a sanctioned strength of 908 posts), whereas Jharkhand has only 3 posts vacant against the sanctioned strength of 131 posts.
In the specialists category of Chhattisgarh the maximum vacancy of 90.4% exists among pediatricians, followed by surgeons (89.8%), gynecologists and obstetrics (86.6%) and physicians (83.4%). The scenario in Primary Health Centers is no better either, as 352 of the 792 functional PHCs are 'operating' without doctors.
CHC is required to be manned by 4 medical specialists- surgeon, physician, gynecologist and pediatrician supported by 21 paramedical and other staff, as per Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS norms). And the situation appears to be serious as 385 PHCs have only one doctor, 290 PHCs have no lab technicians and 172 have no pharmacists, reveals the data.
At the healthcare centers, a large number of doctors posted here are absent for long periods, leaving the patients in hands of pharmacists and even nurses. Nothing seems to have succeeded though state government has been trying all measures possible from making MBBS students sign bonds for rural posting and making such posting mandatory and offering higher salaries to those who agree to go there. The state has only five medical colleges and thus the yearly turnout of doctors is not high enough to meet the requirement.
The health department in the state has even gone to other neighboring states for direct recruitment of doctors but without much success. The state government often blames the materialistic desire of the medicos that prevents them from accepting rural postings but the truth is that the health infrastructure in the rural areas is in a poor state.