NHM employees protests fail to get attention

Srinagar: As the National Health Mission (NHM) contractual employees continue with their agitation for regularization of their services, the government so far seems not to be in a mood to listen to their grievances.

As per figures there are total number of 10000 NHM employees in the entire State working as specialists which includes Gynaecologists, Paediatricians, paramedics and lab technicians, out of which 4500 belong to Jammu region.

As already reported by this newspaper, that the state’s healthcare is presenting a gloomy picture, experts opine that the NRHM employees can come as a savior to ease out the situation of the health sector to a large extent.

As per figures, there is a total number of 77 sanctioned posts for Gynaecologists in Kashmir Division, in which only 52 are currently in position and 25 posts are vacant.

“There are at least 48 Gynaecologists under NHM, who are working in peripheries, but none among them have been regularized,” said a doctor working in Budgam under NHM.

Apart from having a good number of Gynaecologists working under the NHM number of Paediatricians are also putting in their services under the national health project.

Data available with ‘Kashmir Vision’ states that there are only 36 Paediatricians in-position against the total sanctioned 58 posts, leaving 22 positions vacant.

Given the figures, and the number of vacant positions, there seems to be a possibility of inculcating NHM doctors in the healthcare system to make it more efficient and to make some good to the already hobbling system.

Currently, those who have been employed on contractual basis, are being paid in violation of Supreme Court guidelines, which states: equal work and equal pay.

In October 2016, a bench comprising of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice S.A. Bobde held that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would be applicable to all the concerned temporary employees, “so as to vest in them the right to claim wages, at par with the minimum of the pay-scale of regularly engaged Government employees, holding the same post,” the judgment read.

The Bench was hearing an appeal against the High Court order which had held that temporary employees are not entitled to the minimum of the pay-scale, as was being paid to similarly placed regular employees.

“We are not even that much lucky to have a privilege of maternity leave, or a leave at the times of urgency, let alone ‘equal work and equal pay’,” said Dr Mudasir Ahmad, working under NHM.

The NHM doctors are currently working at par with the other doctors at district and sub district levels, but are not privileged to the benefits that the regular employees are getting from the government.

Notably, the employees working under Hospital Development Fund (HDF), whose entry is usually questioned, are being constantly regularized, who, as per sources are not inducted while following a proper screening channel.

“They just happen to be there, and even get regularized,” sources said. However, in case of NHM striking contractual employees, they have been selected after undergoing a thorough screening tests at various levels.

While commenting on the issue, DAK President, Dr Suhail Naik said that if the government is sidelining the issue of regularization for time being but at least it should come up with some respite to them, “if, as the government says, the regularization is a long term plan, but at least they should implement the principle of ‘equal work and equal pay’, and provide them with all the benefits that regular employees are getting,” he said.

“In terms of manpower, the health system is lagging behind, the government should take up the issue of regularization in a phase-wise manner,” he said, adding that there is a need to address their issues, “as the continuous strike is hitting the functioning of the hospitals, with over burdening the existing man power beyond capacity,” the DAK President said.


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