Srinagar: Hundreds of doctors working under central government schemes in Jammu and Kashmir have been escaping mandatory transfers and rural postings for years, while uninterruptedly enjoying coveted postings.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that the J&K Health Department has violated all service and transfer rules by posting “influential doctors” at coveted positions under various health schemes for years.
“Nearly 200 blue-eyed doctors working under various centrally sponsored schemes have not been transferred for many years, even as their services are needed most in hospitals running short of medical staff,” the sources said.
According to a health administrator, medical officers and consultants working under nearly a dozen centrally-sponsored schemes have not been transferred for five to 12 years.
The schemes in which the illegal postings and transfers scam has come to the fore include: Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP); Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP); National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, CVD’s and Stroke; National Program for Control of Blindness; National Program for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE); National Leprosy Eradication Program(NLEP); National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC); National Health Mission (NHM); National Mental Health Program and Rehbar-i-Sehat.
Kashmir Reader has learnt from well-placed sources that administrative posts under these centrally sponsored schemes have been reserved solely for influential doctors.
Sources said that the posts of district tuberculosis officers (DTOs) under the RNTCP have for years been occupied by a few favoured doctors.
“In some districts, there is no rotation of DTOs for more than four years. Some of them have not been transferred for 12 years,” they said.
An official in the administrative department revealed that DTO Anantnag Dr Syed Faheem Aalam, DTO Pulwama Dr Zahoor Malik, DTO Kupwara Dr Muhammad Ramzan, DTO Baramulla Dr Tehzeena Jameel and DTO Srinagar Dr Ishfaq Ahmad have not been transferred for between four and twelve years.
“These officials have created a clout for themselves which allows them to escape necessary postings. Their legal duration of posting has long ago been crossed. Now, they are using political and bureaucratic influence to escape transfers,” he said.
The favouritism is taking a heavy toll on qualified and trained medical professionals who have been denied deserving posts in the Health Department, sources said.
The RNTCP scheme has also been used to re-employ retired officials on contract basis.
The post of medical officer in the state TB Cell was always filled by retired administrators or doctors while unemployed youth were always ignored, sources said.
Officials revealed that Dr Bashir Janwari, within days of his retirement as Deputy Director in the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir (DHSK), joined the state TB Cell as Medical Officer.
The same is the situation in schemes like the IDSP and NHM. In both, the doctors who run the programmes have not been posted elsewhere for almost 12 years.
Medical Officer Dr Mushtaq has been working as Nodal Officer NHM since the inception of the scheme in J&K, while another medical officer, Dr SM Kadri, has been working in the IDSP for more than a decade. Dr Kadri joined the IDSP as medical officer and was then elevated as Epidemiologist. Now he is working as state surveillance officer under the IDSP.
“Dr Mushtaq is looking after dozens of programs under NHM for many years because the Health Department never posted any other person there,” said a doctor working in NHM.
Another blue-eyed doctor, Dr GA Wani, has been working at the post of assistant director Rehbar-i-Sehat programme for many years.
Dr Showkat Laloo, who has been at his post of deputy director for years, has been given the additional charge of state tuberculosis officer.
“The department has not bothered to recruit additional staff for the posts held by the favourite doctors,” said an official.
According to sources, a similar trend has been going on in other schemes like the National Programme for Control of Non-Communicable Diseases and AIDS Control programmes where some medical officers are posted for many years without transfer.
Minister of State for Health and Medical Education Asiea Naqash admitted that there was a stagnation of doctors in the Health Department. However, she said, the issue had been taken seriously.
“We are working on a strict policy to end the stagnation of doctors in the Health Department, especially those working under the centrally sponsored schemes,” she said.
“I will ensure that those working at one post for many years will be transferred soon,” the minister said.