No health policy, but health dept comes up with draft transfer policy

[Tongam Rina]

ITANAGAR, May 7: In the middle of a pandemic, the state health department has come up with a ‘transfer policy for the human resources for health in Arunachal Pradesh’.
A six-member committee has been formed to submit its suggestions and recommendations on the draft transfer policy along with the categorization of the health facilities.
The committee has been asked to submit the report by 12 May next for necessary approval by the state government.
The state health department has come up with the draft transfer policy instead of a relevant state health policy even as the non-existent healthcare system in Arunachal has been exposed after the outbreak of the Covid-19 in the country.
The Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (TRIHMS), till the outbreak of the Covid-19, was without an intensive care unit (ICU).
The four-bedded ICU at TRIHMS came up only on 27 March but without a system for oxygen supply. Two ventilators procured for the ICU had to be retuned as they were of low specification and not suitable for a tertiary centre.
The state government hurriedly put together five ICUs but without required human resources or facilities.
Doctors say that portable oxygen cylinders have been provided without a back up and that there are not enough trained people.
The state also had to recall the PPEs supplied to the TRIHMS, RK Mission Hospital and other general hospitals after the doctors said that they were of poor quality. Allegedly, those PPEs were procured in a “hurry” and there was no time for quality control. The supplier was subsequently blacklisted.
The doctors are not amused with the health department’s decision to come up with a transfer policy instead of working on a health policy.
“It is a draft policy and subject to change but what was the hurry of the department to come with the transfer policy,” they ask.
Doctors suggest that the state come up with a health policy that is practical and make the public health cadre a priority.
“The state does not have a separate public health cadre. Most of the doctors who are trained in public health are working as GDMOs or in positions where their expertise are not being used,” says a doctor.
Meanwhile, the doctors have also questioned the classification of the hospitals into soft, moderate and hard categories.
“On what basis have the categories been prepared? On the basis of medical facilities or road communication,” one asked.
The department in its draft policy has classified the CHCs, PHCs and general hospital into three categories.
They say that proper situational analysis of infrastructure, equipment, and human resources and other gaps should have been analyzed before the classification of the hospitals.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA)-Arunachal chapter said that state government should adopt the national health policy of 2017 to improve the health care system in the state.

Highlights of the draft policy
* A doctor on initial appointment will not be posted in a health facility where he/she has to work independently. Doctors shall be posted in health facilities categorized as ‘soft’ for two years in order to enable them to gain experience. Later, the doctor shall be transferred to ‘hard’ health facility to complete minimum tenure prescribed.
* Even if a doctor comes back after higher studies, they shall continue in ‘hard’ area to complete three years before being engaged as specialist.
*Persons over the age of 50 years shall not be ordinarily posted to a health facility of high altitude.
*The transfers of members of staff who have been given specialized training, especially clinical specialization and GDMOs with specialization will be guided by consideration of fully utilizing their training/ talents, than by any other considerations herein. GDMOs with specialization will be assigned the role of functional specialist with additional monthly remuneration with separate guidelines to be revised by the government from time to time.
*Only the central executive members of the Arunachal Pradesh Doctor’s Association (APDA), as defined in the constitution of the association, may, if posted at a health facility/ office outside Itanagar/ Naharlagun, be brought on transfer to a facility/ office at Itanagar/ Naharlagun. In case, however, already posted at a facility/ office in Itanagar/ Naharlagun, a doctor will not be transferred to a facility/ office outside Itanagar/ Naharlagun so long as he continues to hold the office by virtue of which he is entitled to be retained at Itanagar/Naharlagun.
* Joint posting of spouses. The cadre controlling authority of the health department may post the employee to the health facility or if there is no vacancy in that facility, to the nearest facility in the same district where the other spouse belonging to the other state government department/ PSU is posted.”
*All transfer/ posting effected should be accompanied with a reliever compulsorily to maintain the strength at any given health facility in the state.