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Call for more CFLTCs stumps health dept

The government’s decision to cut six days’ salary from all staff to mobilise funds hasn’t gone down well with healthcare workers. 

Published: 03rd September 2020 06:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd September 2020 06:57 AM   |  A+A-

File picture of a volunteer preparing the bed at a CFLTC

Express News Service

KOCHI: While parties jostle to gain political mileage by demanding the setting up of additional CFLTCs in the wake of upcoming local body polls, statistics show that nearly 50% of beds in facilities remain unoccupied

Even as the state machinery fights tooth and nail to contain the spread of the pandemic, the upcoming local body elections have given parties an opportunity to gain political mileage of the health crisis. According to health authorities, local bodies and politicians are demanding the setting up of more Covid First-Line Treatment Centres (CFLTCs) in every district as part of their poll campaign in an attempt to woo voters. However, as per the statistics with the health department, nearly 50 per cent of beds in all 176 CFLTCs across the state are lying vacant.

At a time when the health department is grappling with human resource strain, officials claim this is not a conducive time for election campaigns. In a recent order issued by the state government, local bodies were given the charge of managing CFLTCs while the health department is required to provide adequate resources to run the facilities.

“We are getting a lot of calls from politicians and panchayat members to start  new CFLTCs in their locality. They think starting a facility is a piece of cake like putting a few beds in a room. We don’t have that kind of resources right now. We require a minimum of six staff for a shift of four hours. Hence, a minimum of 24 staff members are required to run a facility.

Also, every employee has to undergo quarantine for at least a week after 10 days of duty,” said the official. Officials in the Thiruvananthapuram district health department claim they are being flooded with calls from political parties for starting new CFLTCs. The district currently has 32 first-line facilities, the highest in the state. “We already have enough CFLTCs and we cannot allow more. There is huge pressure from political parties but we have decided to stay adamant,” said an official. 

Adding to the woes of the health department, around 868 junior doctors recruited for the posts of temporary medical officers in the wake of the pandemic have resigned to protest the salary cut of the state government. The government’s decision to cut six days’ salary from all staff to mobilise funds hasn’t gone down well with healthcare workers. 

“Junior doctors deployed at CFLTCs have put in their papers. They are currently serving the notice period. In two weeks time, Thiruvananthapuram will be short of 115 medical professionals,” said the official.

According to many in the health department, the volunteers of Covid Brigade are not a viable replacement as many who have signed up are not ready to join duty. “Thousands registered but a majority of them don’t want to serve. Because of staff crunch, we approached many doctors to no avail,” said an official.

govt ruling 
In a recent order issued by the state government, local bodies were given the charge of managing CFLTCs while the health department is required to provide resources to run the facilities



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