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Govt given 3 months to settle ISM mess

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Srinagar: Taking note of the reports about alleged malfunctioning in the Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) department, the State Accountability Commission (SAC) has given the government three months to put it “back on rails within” or to divert their Rs 100-crore budget towards rural healthcare.
The media reports had alleged that out of 576 institutions of this department, 129 had been rendered defunct due to withdrawal of doctors, and shortage of medicines and facilities.
On this the State Accountability Commission summoned Principal Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department, for assistance.
On examination, the full bench of the Commission, comprising chairperson Justice B A Khan and two member Justices (Retd.) J P Singh and B A Kirmani, prima facie found “substance in the allegations against the department”.
The Principal Secretary admitted before the Commission that the doctors had been withdrawn from some of the rural centers and deployed at Unani Colleges at Jammu and Ganderbal.
The Commission found that the department had not set up Panchkarma centers, which were otherwise an essential component of Indian System of Medicine, touted to be an alternative system of medicine for catering to the health requirements particularly of the rural population.
Commission also found that the departmental functioning left “much to be desired” due to alleged irregularities in running of its centers and deployment of its doctors in “comfort zones” for various considerations.
These include “lack of supervision by District Officers, Groupism and absenteeism in its staff, irregularities in the purchase of medicines and prescribing of cross prescriptions by its doctors”.
The SAC asked the government to, as an interim measure, “redeploy those doctors withdrawn from the rural centers, to take steps to set up Panchkarma Centers at District headquarters, to train at least 50 Therapists for these Panchkarma Centers, to take steps for regularization of the existing AYUSH Units, to set up supervisory mechanism to check the malpractice of ISM Doctors prescribing Allopathic medicines in hospital centers and at their own places of practice”.
The Commission granted the Principal Secretary three months to act on these interim recommendations and to submit status report of the working of the department before the Commission on the next date.