Many posts of doctors in BHUs lying vacant due to non-availability of male doctors

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 Serious manpower crisis in health services imminent

Many posts of doctors in BHUs lying vacant
due to non-availability of male doctors

LAHORE: A serious manpower crisis in the rural areas is imminent as a large number of doctor’s posts in Basic Health Units in some of the districts of Punjab are lying vacant since long due to non-availability of male doctors. According to a communication received from Dr. Tahir Siraj Medical Officer working in a Basic Health Unit in District Sahiwal, Punjab Rural Support Programme is managing the Basic Health Units in fourteen districts which include Rahim Yar Khan, Chakwal, Vehari, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Kasur, Mianwali, Lodhran, Toba Tek Singh, Hafizabad, Pakpattan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajan Pur which is serving these areas for the last ten years quite satisfactorily. In these fourteen districts, there are 1147 BHUs where 815 doctors are working which includes 698 on PRSP contract and 117 on contracts from Government of Punjab. This includes just twelve Lady Doctors.

In some districts where there is no doctor posted by the Government there are 322 Basic Health Units. According to reports in District Okara there are total ninety six sanctioned seats of which just six are filled and ninety are vacant. Similarly in District Bahawalnagar out of one hundred one sanctioned posts of doctors, only sixteen are filled and eighty five remain vacant. In district Sargodha out of one hundred twenty seven sanctioned   posts of medical officers, only seventy are filled and fifty seven remain vacant since no male doctors are available.

The present situation  is the result of admission in medical colleges on open merit policy with the result that most of the girls who get admission,  after marriage do not practice  and many are not prepared to go and serve in rural areas. Realizing this gravity of the situation, the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council a few years ago had ordered 50% seats for boys and 50% for girls in medical colleges but the superior courts gave decision in favour of admission on open merit. We need to look into our admission policy critically and make necessary changes keeping in view our requirements. The situation can be improved if seats for girls are reserved in medical colleges, at least 50% of seats in medical colleges should be for boys, establishment of medical colleges purely for boys with annual admission of five hundred. In addition, doctors serving in Basic Health Units should be given at least 25% additional allowance. If no immediate measures are taken to correct the situation, we will be facing a far serious crisis in the health services in the rural areas in the years to come.

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