Staff shortage stymies health department’s efforts to contain contagious diseases

Representative image. Photo: IANS

Thrissur: Even as deaths due to contagious diseases are increasing in Kerala, the health department’s measures to contain the spread of illnesses have been stymied by an employee shortage.

Twenty-three of 45 technical assistant posts at the district level, 76 of 176 health supervisor positions at the block level, and 122 of the over 800 health inspector posts in panchayats are lying vacant in the state.

Candidates figuring on the rank list and awaiting appointment fear the government may sabotage permanent postings by making appointments on a contract basis.

It is the responsibility of technical assistants in the rank of rural health officer to take precautionary and preventive measures against contagious diseases in their respective areas.

However, there is a dearth of employees even after 106 additional posts were created at the block level based on the staff pattern that has been followed since 1964.

The health department has come to the conclusion that the surge in contagious diseases in the state is mainly due to failures in carrying out sanitation and mosquito eradication programmes.

There are allegations that no officials are available to implement the suggestions made at the review meetings conducted under the chairmanship of the District Medical Officers.

The sanitation programmes for which Rs 20,000 was sanctioned per ward have gone awry. Activities such as fogging, elimination of mosquito breeding grounds, and clearing of bushes did not take place at many places owing to lack of supervision.

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