Paucity of doctors for posting in tribal areas: Govt tells HC

Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court that there was a paucity of doctors for postings in the tribal areas.

Mumbai: Maharashtra government on Wednesday informed the Bombay High Court that there was a paucity of doctors for postings in the tribal areas where malnutrition is rampant.

The offer of 20 percent additional marks to medical students for taking up such postings did not work, it said.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Purnima Upadhyay, seeking proper implementation of schemes intended to curb malnutrition in Melghat and other tribal areas of Maharashtra.

When the court was told that there was no coordination between various departments such as Women and Child Welfare, Public Health, Tribal Development and Medical Education, the judges suggested constitution of a core committee with a nodal officer to take care of the issues in tribal areas.

The High Court had earlier reprimanded the government for its lackadaisical approach and warned that contempt notice will be issued to the secretary of Public Health department if concrete steps were not taken within two weeks.

However, the court expressed satisfaction today saying that at least some progress has been made. When informed that 33 percent posts for doctors remained vacant, the court asked as to why they were not being filled up instead of resorting to interim arrangements by bringing doctors from nearby rural hospitals.

"Why don`t you people fill up these posts?" Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice SC Gupte asked, adding that poor people dependent on the rural hospitals will suffer.

Government Pleader Vandana Bhide submitted that the authorities were unable to recruit specialists to fill up the posts. Bhide said doctors who sign the bonds refuse to go and cases are pending where doctors have challenged such postings.

The government spends lot of money on doctors who sign bonds and the idea is they pay back through such postings, the court said.

Adjourning the hearing to July 9, the court has asked the state to give details about constitution of a committee to consider the issue of doctors signing bonds to serve in rural/tribal areas.