Primary health still lowest priority for states

September 22nd, 2008 - 9:42 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) About 50 percent of posts of specialists at various community health centres (CHCs) are lying vacant in India, says a report by industry lobby Assocham, indicating that primary health still remains the lowest priority of state governments.According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), 59.2 percent of posts for surgeons, 46.4 percent for obstetricians and gynaecologists, 56.6 percent for physicians and 51.9 percent for paediatricians are vacant at the nearly 4,500 CHCs in India.

Assocham president Sajjan Jindal said: “About 2,525 CHCs should have been added to the current operational community health centres that number around 5,000 by the end of 2007-08, which did not happen at all - it speaks of utter apathy of state governments towards them.”

Even out of the sanctioned posts, a significant percentage is vacant. For instance, about 8.8 percent of the sanctioned posts of female health workers are vacant as compared to about 32 percent of sanctioned posts of male health workers.

At primary health centres (PHCs), about 13.8 percent of the sanctioned posts of female health assistant and 22.1 percent of male health assistant posts are vacant.

The report indicated a large shortfall among male health workers, resulting in poor male participation in family welfare and other health programmes.

About 5.6 percent of PHCs were without a doctor, about 40 percent were without a lab technician and about 17 percent were without a pharmacist.

About 50 percent of subcentres, 76 percent of PHCs and 91 percent of CHCs are located in government buildings. The rest are located either in rented buildings or rent-free panchayat/voluntary society buildings.

In the case of subcentres, overall 66,382 buildings are required to be constructed. Similarly, 3,618 are required for PHCs and 199 for CHCs.

Existing manpower is an important prerequisite for the efficient functioning of rural health infrastructure. The chamber has recommended that the states that manage the aforesaid centres should attach equal priority to their well-being just as they take up issues of creating infrastructure such as roads, ports and aviation.

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