Maternal, child health care: Rural doctors disappointed over incentive cuts

Say policy is discriminatory; demand monetary benefits be restored.


Express December 07, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


Gynaecologists working in rural areas of Rawalpindi District on Wednesday expressed concern over cancellation of monetary incentives.


The gynaecologists working in each of the five tehsil headquarter hospitals and seven rural health centres (RHCs) of Rawalpindi District were provided Rs12,000 as monetary incentive by the Punjab government under the Maternal, Neonatal & Child Health (MNCH) programme. But the incentive was revoked in July due to financial constraints being faced by the provincial government.

The health workers complained that since August their peers have been given increments and upgrades in pay scales, while their salaries have been reduced. “This is clear discrimination,” said a doctor who works at a RHC in Rawalpindi. “Our colleagues who are not working under the MNCH programme are still getting similar amounts in incentives under other programmes,” he added.

The doctors complained that given the prevailing “inflationary environment” most of their salary is used up in travelling expenses. They said that public transport facilities in rural areas are not women-friendly and they have to hire taxicabs to reach work, which cost them around Rs350 to 400 a day. “With the cancellation in our incentives and the three-day CNG loadshedding our travelling costs have now become unbearable,” one doctor added. The doctors said there is only one gynaecologist posted in each RHC, who has to look after all patients visiting both the outpatient and emergency departments. Sometimes the centres receive more than 1,200 patients a month, Dr Atif said.

“We have not been receiving our complete salaries for the past three months,” he added.

MNCH Public Health Specialist Rawalpindi Dr Farzana Zafar said the MNCH programme was initiated by the Punjab government in 2007 to provide neonatal care to mothers, aiming to decrease the maternal and infant mortality rate in the country. She said the cancellation of the incentive has left these gynaecologists “disappointed and burdened” and some have started looking for other jobs.

The doctors have demanded the Punjab government to restore their incentive or bring their salaries at par with their colleagues in other departments.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2011.

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