Class 10 pass a `doctor’ in Bengal’s government health centre

April 17th, 2008 - 10:36 am ICT by admin  

By Sreya Basu
Kolkata, April 17 (IANS) You just need to clear the Class 10 examination to be a “doctor” at a primary health centre in Murshidabad district of West Bengal! At least this is how the primary health centre that caters to Gouripur village in the interior of the district is being run for the last four years. The health centre is about 225 km from Kolkata.

Sanjit Kumar Sarkar, popularly known as “Doctor Babu” among his patients, is actually a Group D employee (general duty attendant) of the health centre. He has studied till Class 10.

Murshidabad’s chief medical officer Mangobinda Mondal told IANS on phone: “I don’t find anything wrong in this. After all, Sanjit is not handling major cases or doing surgeries. He only prescribes and gives medicines for common diseases like diarrhoea and fever. The actual doctor of the health centre was transferred to some other district four years ago.

“But till now no new doctors have been recruited for unknown reasons. This village is quite far from the district municipal hospital in Sagardighi village. At least the villagers are getting some medical help this way,” said Mondal.

Sanjit’s colleague Milan Sardar, popularly known as “Compounder Babu”, sorts and hands out medicines to patients. Sutapa Sarkar is the “nurse” and handles gynaecological cases. But none of them has studied beyond Class 10.

“For me the best way to gather education is by experience. I have been working in this health centre for the last 12 years and have observed the doctors closely. By now I am thorough with symptoms of diseases and their cures.

“Around 500 villagers turn up every day here. I know the ailments and their treatments. It would be a sin if I don’t help them just because I am not a qualified doctor,” said Sanjit.

Requisition for medicines are placed with the district medical store in Behrampore town.

The district hospital at Sagardighi is 15 km away from the health centre. However, the 2,000-odd villagers of Gouripur are unwilling to go there for proper medical assistance.

“When we are getting medicines from the health centre, why should we go to the district hospital at Sagardighi unless the patient’s condition is serious? Besides, travelling to the hospital is a nightmare. The condition of the road is pathetic and there are no means of proper communication. We have to hire rickshaw or horse-drawn carts to reach there,” said Raghunath Samanta, a villager.

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