The medical officers said the SDM declared “our incomplete targets a criminal activity and threatened to register FIR against us”, putting them under “unnecessary pressure”.




A day after 28 medical officers in Varanasi in charge of community health centres (CHCs) and primary health centres (PHCs) submitted their resignation letter to Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr VB Singh, accusing the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of harassing them, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma on Thursday ordered all non-health department officials to coordinate with the CMO and the Additional CMO regarding medical matters.

Sharma clarified that only the CMO would have control over these health centres from now on.

In a notice dated August 9, SDM (Sadar) Vinay Kumar Singh had told the officials that their work was “insufficient”. Singh pointed out different anomalies in the Covid-19 data being sent from the centres, and warned that it might attract legal action. The letter was sent to 26 officials at the helm of CHCs and PHCs.

The SDM claimed that the daily reports contained incomplete or incorrect figures, including contradictory information about positive patients, those in medical isolation or home isolation, and recovered patients. There were also differences in the number of patients not allowed to isolate themselves at home, and those hospitalised, he added.

Vinay Kumar Singh, who is also the Assistant Nodal Officer of the District Integrated Covid Control and Command Centre, suggested that some patients in home isolation might be in danger because of the officials. This falls in the category of criminal activity, he added.

The SDM also pointed out that not enough contact sampling had been done, given the number of contact persons of patients. Surveillance samples, community samples, RT-PCR samples and Antigen samples were also fewer than required.

“Under the acts and provisions made by the state government, governments employees have been given different responsibilities and violating that has been declared a punishable offence,” Vinay Kumar Singh wrote, adding that legal action against the officials would be recommended if they failed to provide satisfactory answers.

The medical officers said the SDM declared “our incomplete targets a criminal activity and threatened to register FIR against us”, putting them under “unnecessary pressure”.

“In regard to the letter we have to say that all of us, medical officers, are unable to work with such kind of mental pressure,” they added in their letter to the CMO on August 12.

The doctors pointed out that in a letter on July 23 the CMO himself had blamed them for Covid-19 deaths in the district, and sought answers. They asked who would be held responsible for the death of Additional CMO Dr Jung Bahadur Singh, who had tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week and died in Banaras Hindu University hospital on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest. He might have died of shock as he too had been threatened with dismissal, the officials wrote.

The doctors told Dr VB Singh, “In your letter dated July 23, all the in-charges were considered responsible for the Covid-19 deaths and an answer was sought. In that regard we have to say that in what circumstances did Additional CMO Dr Jung Bahadur die today, and who will take responsibility for the same? The administration had threatened to dismiss him too, and maybe that gave him the shock that caused his death. Will the administration take responsibility?…Therefore all of us in-charge medical officers give a letter of resignation from our posts, and are ready to continue all the medical works as per your directions.” The officials took back their resignation and returned to work later on Wednesday after the CMO pacified them. Talking to The Indian Express about the latest instructions issued by the magistrate, Director General (DG) of Medical Health Dr DS Negi said it was a district-level dispute, and the DM had taken a decision in accordance with the situation.

“After I got to know about the scenario in Varanasi, I called the CMO. Last night I was told that the matter had been resolved and everything was fine…Generally, the administrative officials and the health officials work together in the fight against Covid, and that is how the things should be,” he said.

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