Rural medicos at loggerheads with health dept find a supporter in minister Bajwa

Rural development and panchayati raj minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has thrown his weight behind nearly 750 rural medical officers (RMOs) who have been at loggerheads with the health department for alleged discrimination in assigning of Covid-19 duties.

The health department, meanwhile, says some RMOs have not been reporting for duty

Bajwa, himself recovering from Covid-19, was on Thursday all praise for the RMOs for doing fabulous work in these challenging times.

“I have learnt about their grievances and the challenges they are facing. I will be joining office in a couple of days and all their issues will be resolved soon. I urge them to continue working diligently to save the poor and needy,” he added.

The RMOs, who come under the panchayati raj department, have accused health department officials of being biased against them since they were deployed on Covid-19 duties in March.

The health department officials say some RMOs have been absent from Covid-19 duty.

On July 24, additional chief secretary health Anurag Aggarwal had issued orders to all deputy commissioners from across the sate to ensure that the RMOs attended duty and to ask for an explanation from those defying orders.

The RMOs reportedly did not take very kindly to being deployed at the help desk at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital.

“The RMOs were primarily deployed for Covid duties but the health department is using them for non-Covid duties. At Bathinda and Barnala the rural medical doctors were asked to perform postmortem and medico legal duties. We had objected to it, following which orders were issued against us that we are remaining absent from duty,” said Dr JP Narula, state president of the Rural Medical Services Association.

He said that since minister Bajwa was battling with Covid-19 the delegation of doctors had decided to meet him next week.

Dr Narula also claimed that in Ludhiana 62 rural medical officers were managing frontline duties on rotation at different Covid care centres since March.

With rural medicos involved in Covid duties, rural health services, particularly care of elderly villagers has been hit badly.

The association has demanded that RMOs on non Covid duties should be deployed in the rural dispensaries.

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