The public has demanded that the vacancy of Health Officer in the Kochi Corporation be filled immediately considering the possibility of a disease outbreak.
According to the information from Right to Information (RTI), the civic body’s Health Department has been running without a health officer at its helm since May 31, 2013.
“It is more than eight months since the post became vacant but a new appointment is yet to take charge. The Health Department needs a certified MBBS doctor at its top. At present, the civic body has only a health supervisor, who does not have a medical degree. The lack of an expert hand to monitor the health status will slow down initiatives in this regard, besides the spread the communicable diseases in the area,” said Antony Puthur, a social activist.
He added that such a move was necessary to change the reputation of the civic body as ‘very susceptible to communicable diseases’.
“A very high number of communicable disease cases is being reported from the area for the past several years. Last year, the district has shown an increase in the number of communicable diseases, as per the reports from the Directorate of Health Service. Hence, necessary steps should be taken by the authorities to appoint a health officer,” he said.
Antony Puthur said that the lack of expertise in the management of Health Department will also lead to fund misuse. “Only experts can take preventive measures against communicable diseases with minimal fund usage,” Antony added.
Meanwhile, Corporation Health Standing Committee chairman T K Asharaf told ‘City Express’ that the lack of a health officer was an issue plaguing the entire state and not just the Kochi Corporation.
“It is an issue of the entire state. Currently, among the five municipal corporations in the state, only Kollam has got a health officer. All the other civic body’s Health Departments function without a health officer. Doctors are reluctant to take the post of the Health Officer due to low salary scale. They get more salary if they work with public Health Department or with hospitals,” he explained.
He said the Health Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation is running the Health Department properly and are capable of controlling the spread of communicable diseases.
“The Health Department of the Kochi Corporation comprises several senior and experienced officials. We take advices from District Medical Office. This enable us to reduce the spread of communicable diseases in the district to an extent,” he said. He added that we will bring the issue to the notice of the state government. “Even the Public Service Commission is unable to provide employees to the post of health officer. We will bring the issue to the notice of Health Minister V S Sivakumar,” Asharaf said.