Health workers deployed to carry out administrative works in local unitsLocals in Taplejung have started raising questions about the possible impact on the health sector after health workers have been mobilised to perform administrative works.
Jitendra Dev Rajbanshi is a health worker. However, he is currently working as the ward secretary of Maiwakhola Rural Municipality, as directed by the municipality.
The local unit decided to deploy Rajbanshi, an auxiliary health worker at Sanghu Health Post, as the ward secretary of Maiwakhola Ward No 3. The man who used to examine patients and prescribe medicines is now busy with administrative works, like preparing recommendation letters, implementing the budget, distributing social security allowance and carrying out day-to-day administrative works.
The rural municipality took the decision a few days ago. The local unit said it was compelled to deploy the health worker to perform administrative works because the municipality has a shortage of employees. “We had to deploy him (Rajbanshi) to the ward office, as we had no other alternative,” said Ganesh Adhikari, the chief administrative officer of Maiwakhola Rural Municipality.
“He has been given the responsibility to carry out administrative work as well as examine patients when necessary. The decision was taken to provide essential services to the people,” he said. “In the absence of sufficient staff, we are now making efforts to mobilise the available human resources in the best possible way.”
Rajbanshi, however, is not the only health worker who has been assigned to administrative tasks at their respective municipalities. Auxiliary health worker Hemanta Pradhan has also been working as a ward secretary of Meringden Rural Municipality Ward No. 1 for the past four months. The once-busy health worker is gradually learning to form a consumers’ committee; recommend the local unit for project contract, register birth, death and migration; fill up citizenship recommendation forms, et cetera.
Of the total nine local bodies, Meringden has mobilised the highest number of health workers for administrative works. The rural municipality has 31 posts for government employees. Only Dambar Bahadur Angdambe, chief administrative officer, is from the administration service. Five employees were appointed on a contract basis while the technicians, health workers and sub-engineers have been executing the administrative works.
“The government neither deploys the employees nor allows us to appoint them. We have been facing serious problems to perform administrative works,” said Ganesh Bahadur Limbu, chief of the local unit, adding, “We assured them to provide encouragement allowance and requested them to perform works of both sectors (administration and health).”
Locals in Taplejung have started raising questions about the possible impact on the health sector after the health workers have been mobilised to perform administrative works. Like the local bodies, the health institutions, mainly those located in remote villages, have also been affected due to the shortage of employees.
The service seekers in the health facilities complained that they could not get timely service as the health workers were deployed to carry out administrative works as well. “I took my ailing daughter to the local health post. I had to wait a long while as the health worker was busy in some other administrative works of the rural municipality,” said Pasang Doma Sherpa, a resident of Meringden.
The elected people’s representatives said that the deployment of health workers to carry out day-to-day administrative works is a temporary arrangement. The representatives have demanded the government deploy employees at the earliest so that the health workers could go back to their work.
According to Ghanendra Maden, chief at the District Coordination Committee, nearly 60 percent posts of employees are vacant in the local units of Taplejung. “We hope that the vacant posts will be filled through the Public Service Commission examination. We have informed the federal Ministry of Local Administration about the shortage of employees in the local bodies,” he said.
There is a shortage of employees in the district headquarters as well. The government has managed 51 posts excluding drivers, office assistants and gardeners for Phungling Municipality. According to chief administrative officer Mahesraj Timsina, only 27 employees are currently working in the municipality.