Not enough docs; quacks call the shots in Odisha's Mayurbhanj

The shortage of doctors has put healthcare in remote pockets of the tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district at the mercy of rural medical practitioners.

Published: 23rd June 2021 04:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd June 2021 04:55 PM   |  A+A-

Raju Deep, a quack of Murshidabad, with his kit in Mayurbhanj I Express

By Express News Service

BARIPADA: The shortage of doctors has put healthcare in remote pockets of the tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district at the mercy of quacks. In a district that is already struggling to improve access to health services for patients, more than half of the sanctioned doctor posts are lying vacant. Official sources said as many as 334 of the sanctioned 549 posts of doctors are lying vacant in Mayurbhanj.

The district’s health sector is being looked after by 215 regular and 20 contractual doctors who are managing the affairs at 26 community health centres (CHCs), 86 PHCs, three sub-divisional hospitals and the district headquarters hospital. Then there are 589 Ayush health and wellness centres.

Sources said more than 30 health centres are being run by pharmacists and nurses in absence of regular doctors. A case in point is Srisha CHC. Three doctors who were posted at the CHC are yet to join duty as they are on leave for higher studies. 

In their absence, Dr Astha Mohanta of Jharpokharia PHC has been given additional charge of managing the affairs at Srisha CHC. Most of the people residing on the foothills of Similipal forest are dependent on quacks as there are no doctors at the nearest PHC and CHC. Taking advantage of the situation, fake doctors and traditional healers are exploiting the helplessness of tribals residing in interior areas of the district. The Covid-19 pandemic has also come as a blessing in disguise for these fake doctors as the demand for immunity-booster herbs and traditional drugs has increased among the rural populace.

This has drawn quacks from outside. Kunal Singh, a quack of Murshidabad district in West Bengal, visits rural pockets and provides treatment for various ailments. He also goes to semi-urban areas. “Now, people are demanding medicines for cough and fever besides tonics to boost their immunity.” 

Kunal lived in a rented house near Palobani in Baripada town. He along with five other quacks including Raju Deep, also from Murshidabad, regularly frequent the nearby rural pockets to ‘treat’ people.
Contacted, chief district medical officer Rupavanoo Mishra admitted that quacks are active in remote and interior areas of Mayurbhanj. “We have informed the government about the shortage of doctors in the district and hopefully, the vacancies will be filled up soon,” he added.


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