All is not well in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency of Varanasi where over two dozen medical officers who are in-charge of Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) tendered their resignation, blaming the Deputy Collector of mentally torturing them and threatening to lodge an FIR against them for ‘failing to control COVID-19 infection’.
The resignations came the day Additional Chief Medical Officer (ACMO) Dr Jung Bahadur died ostensibly of COVID -19. However, the doctors claimed that he was threatened by the same Deputy Collector, who is acting as assistant Nodal officer for COVID-19 of the district, of suspension and dismissal from service.
Chief Medical Officer Dr VB Singh admitted that 28 senior doctors, who are in-charges of CHCs and PHCs of rural and urban areas, have resigned but later agreed to work till further orders. But the doctors say that they will not relent.
“We know what happened to Dr Jung Bahadur. He was threatened by the assistant Nodal officer that he would be dismissed from the service. He was under tension and died of a heart attack,” an agitating officer said.
Director General Medical Health (Uttar Pradesh) Dr DS Negi said that the government has sought a report from the Varanasi CMO over the resignation of the medical officers. The Additional Director Medical Health has been asked to summon a meeting of the medical officers and resolve the issue at the earliest, he said.
The agitating doctors levelled allegations against the assistant Nodal officer of mental harassment by issuing threats of lodging FIRs against them. On Wednesday evening they reached the office of the CMO Dr V B Singh and submitted their resignations.
The doctors said that the said officer had issued letters to all the health centres on August 9 last in which he had termed all the work done during the COVID-19 by them as insufficient. The letter said that the ‘failure’ to control COVID-19 was a criminal act and threatened to lodge an FIR against them.
“The death of ACMO should be probed because he too was threatened. The ACMO was under deep pressure and depression as he was also threatened of suspension by the district administration,” they said and added that in this scenario it would not be possible for them to work as in-charge of CHCs and PHCs and thus they have decided to quit their posts.
The number of COVID-19 infection cases is on the rise in Varanasi with around 200 cases being reported daily on an average in the last 10 days. The mini Prime Minister’s office in Varanasi is putting pressure on the district administration to control the spread.
“We can only treat the patients. It is the responsibility of the administration to make people follow the COVID-19 guidelines. There is not a single instance where the infected patient is not being taken care of. If the number of Covid-19 patients is going up, it is not because of doctors but because of the laxity of administration. First they should set their house in order and then blame doctors,” a medical officer told this reporter on condition of anonymity for obvious reasons.