Express News Service

DEHRADUN: Data accessed through an RTI query filed by Social Development for Communities Foundation revealed that 9 out of 13 districts in Uttarakhand have less than 50% availability of specialist doctors.

As the third wave of Covid 19 looms large, the hill state is also facing around 60% shortfall in child specialists in the state. 

“Health department needs to review and re-evaluate the IPHS framework along with the Government of India. Nainital and Pauri have a maximum number of approved positions despite having less population and medical facilities. We need to judiciously allocate our human resources and focus more in places where the burden on health facilities is more,” says Anoop Nautiyal, Founder, Social Development for Communities Foundation. 

Out of a total of 158 sanctioned posts of child specialists, only 61 are working in Uttarakhand government hospitals. 

In Dehradun district out of a total 18, 15 child specialists are working followed by 2 in Rudraprayag against sanctioned 4, five in Udham Singh Nagar against sanctioned 13, four in Uttarakashi against sanctioned seven, two in Champawat against sanctioned four, two in Bageshwar against sanctioned five and four in Almora against sanctioned 18. Meanwhile, there are only six child specialists in Haridwar against a sanctioned total of 14, 12 in Nainital against sanctioned 23, two in Pithoragarh against sanctioned eight, five in Pauri against sanctioned 22, one in Chamoli against sanctioned eight and one in Tehri against sanctioned 14. 

Out of a total 13, 11 districts do not have even a single psychiatrist, making access to mental healthcare a big challenge in the Himalayan state. 

Four districts have reported zero availability of public health specialists at a time when the country is preparing for the third wave. 

More than 50% shortfall in overall specialist doctors across 9 districts in Uttarakhand such as orthopaedic surgeon, eye surgeon, radiologist, anaesthetist, gynecologist, child specialist, forensic, microbiologist, psychiatrist, pathologist, skin diseases, ENT surgeon, general surgeon and physician. 

Chamoli has only 17 specialists available against the approved 62 posts. Similarly, in Pauri, only 42 specialist doctors are available as against the approved 152 posts. As against the approved 127 posts for specialist doctors, only 49 are working in the district of Almora. On the other hand, only 22 specialist doctors are available against the approved 59 in the district of Pithoragarh. 

The situation is extremely alarming in the district of Haridwar which happens to be the largest district in terms of population in the state. 

Haridwar has only 40 specialist doctors against the approved 105 posts. This makes only one specialist available for more than 50000 people in Haridwar. 

There is also a nearly 60% shortage of gynaecologists in the state. 

“Accessibility is already a major challenge for women in hilly areas. Unavailability of female doctors will further exacerbate the issue and can impact the state’s performance on parameters like institutional deliveries, antenatal care, child nutrition etc,” says Rishabh Shrivastava, lead researcher of the SDC Foundation.