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Healthcare facilities become major poll issue in Odisha

As Odisha heads toward another election, political parties particularly the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seem to be going all out in spending on newspaper advertisements and hoardings propagating Odisha’s health infrastructure.

OTV did a reality check on how Odisha fares in providing healthcare services and health infrastructure against the State government’s claims.

Before going to the hospitals, let us see the claims that the BJD-led Odisha government is making by beating its own trumpet. As per the latest full-page newspaper advertisement, Odisha is leading in the health index in the Country and the government has claimed that the decline in infant and maternal mortality rate is the fastest in the Country too.

Not only that, as advertised, Odisha has the largest vaccination coverage and it is ranked second in eradicating TB. Other than that, the government has also assured that it will set up 20 super-specialty hospitals in the next three years making Odisha a hub of cancer treatment in the Country.

However, the ground reality tells a different story altogether. Exposing the dwindling healthcare service in the State, hundreds of patients are getting treated on the verandah without a bed at Nilagiri Sub-Divisional Hospital in Balasore.

A patient, Pradeep Mallik, who has been lying in the hospital verandah for three days after failing to secure a bed at the hospital, does not even know who is the doctor treating him and for what disease he is being treated there.

“I saw hundreds of patients lying on the hospital verandah. So I took a spot. On the first day, I received a saline. After that, I have been administered several injections by the sister but the doctor comes once after 2:30pm,” said Mallik.

As per reports, Nilagiri Hospital has 10 doctors in place of 19 doctors. Even those 10 doctors never remain present every day owing to leave and deputation works.

However, the district Collector says that Nilagiri Hospital has specialist doctors in almost all departments.

“There have been a lot of unnecessary referrals from Nilagiri SDH. But it has reduced in the last two months. We have posted specialist doctors in the hospital too. And more doctors are coming to the hospital,” said Balasore District Collector, Dattatreya Bhausaheb Sinde.

Similarly, Gadigaon Primary Health Centre at Kaptipada in Mayurbhanj, which reportedly remains close on almost every alternate day due to the unavailability of doctors, operates with a single pharmacist.

“This hospital should have a permanent doctor. An Ayush doctor was deputed to this hospital earlier. But he returned to his original place of posting after some days. An MBBS doctor has been assigned to this hospital. But he remains on leave the next day when he does the night shift at this hospital,” said the pharmacist of Gadigaon Hospital, Sumant Dixit.

Meanwhile, politics has heated up after the advertisements adorned front pages across the State. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged huge corruption in BSKY, the Congress termed the government as a propagandist government.

“Odisha does not have even 50 percent doctors of what we actually require. Health service has collapsed in our State,” alleged the Leader of Opposition Jayanarayan Mishra.

Similarly, Congress MLA, Taraprasad Bahinipati said, “Health sector in Odisha is in bad shape. There are insufficient doctors at hospitals. The government is all about talk, but no walk.”

Replying to the allegations, BJD MLA, Arabinda Dhali said, “Odisha has made many developments in the health sector. Poor people get good healthcare services at hospitals with BSKY cards.” OTV News

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