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90pc posts of medical officer vacant for 15 years

Ahmed Shatil Alam

Ninety per cent of posts of medical officers for homoeopathy, unani and ayurvedic medicine in government hospitals have remained vacant as no new doctors have been recruited for these posts in the last 15 years.
Attempts last year to re-start recruitment, however, have been held up by a High Court order stopping the recruitment of the unani and ayurverdic doctors.
A significant number of patients appear to prefer treatment from these alternative doctors with official 2012 reports collected from 45 district hospitals showing that about 20 per cent of out-patients were treated with non-allopathic medicine, despite the lack of doctors.
Out of the 468 sanctioned medical officer posts involved in alternative medicine, 423 are yet to be filled for all the districts and other government-run hospitals, said Dinesh Kumar, director of Homeo and Traditional Medicine at the Directorate General of Health Services.
He also said that no recruitment had taken place since 1999, when 45 medical officers were recruited by the then government.
Dinesh said that patients with chronic diseases increasingly rely on alternative than allopathic medicine.
‘Alternative medicine nowadays is becoming more popular among the patients both in urban and rural areas,’ Dinesh said.
According to DGHS data the number of government AMC doctors is far less than required throughout the country. There are only 37 active medical officers – 13 for unani medicine, 13 for homoeopathic medicine and 11 for ayurvedic medicine.
The remaining eight medical officers are either attached to the Government Unani and Ayurvedic Medical College and Hospital or the Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital as teachers, or have gone abroad.
Along with the medical officers, more than 200 posts of support personnel are vacant.
DGHS deputy director (HTM) Gour Moni Sinha said medical officers for the required posts could not be recruited also because of a case filed last year with the High Court by some applicants who had taken tests for recruitment under a project in 2003 but could not join.
He said that in March 2013, DGHS had published a circular seeking to employ 287 medical officers of alternative medicine but the people who had previously applied for similar posts funded by the Health and Population Sector Programme obtained the High Court stay on the recruitment process.
‘In 2003, written examinations were taken for 20 posts of medical officers – 13 for unani and ayurvedic and seven for homoeopathy, but the viva could not be completed as the HPSP programme itself ended by that time,’ Gour Moni said.
The subsequent Health Nutrition and Population Sector Programme (2003-2011) project did not include any funding for the recruitment of alternative doctors so the cases of those 20 applicants became ‘uncertain’, he said.
Dinesh said that the immediate past government included it again in Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Programme (2011-2016) project, but the recruitment for these posts had now been stayed by the court.
‘In its order the High Court, however, said that there was no bar to the appointment of 137 personnel specifically for homoeopathy and therefore we have started the process of the recruitment for those posts,’ Gour Moni told New Age.
Dinesh, however, said he did not know anything about recruitment of support staff for these medical officers.
Bangladesh Board of Unani and Ayurvedic Systems of Medicine registrar AKM Haruner Rashid urged the government to start the process of recruitment for all the posts immediately.
‘This deadlock disappoints the young doctors who want to pursue it as career,’ he said.

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