Crippling vacancies plague health departments in Karnataka

BENGALURU: With 12 of the 16 sanctioned posts for joint directors in the Department of Health and Family Welfare being vacant and the remaining four being in-charge officers, the personnel here are stretched beyond their capacity. This is affecting programme implementation.The only four programmes in the department with full-time joint directors are Malaria, Ophthalmology, State Institute of Health and Family Welfare, and Medical.

Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Health and Planning, Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS), Non-Communicable Diseases, Information, Education and Communication (IEC), Public Health Institute (PHI), and joint director posts in Jayanagar General Hospital, Tumakuru District Hospital, Kolar District Hospital, Wenlock Hospital, Mangaluru, and District Hospital Vijayapura lack full-time officers.

Sources say though there are plenty of officers in the seniority list waiting for promotion, but due to bureaucratic lethargy, the files are not being moved with priority to fill these posts as fast as possible.
“The appointments have to be made by the secretariat. They say for every question that is sent to the directorate, it takes months on end for them to get a reply and hence the delay in clearing files,” a senior official said.

“What is the quality of work that is delivered and how much time can one allocate for a programme?” the officer asked. Take for example, Dr Ramachandra Bairy who is in-charge of three programmes — Tuberculosis, Immunisation and Pre Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT).Dr Ratan Kelkar, in-charge health commissioner told TNIE, “I don’t think the programme implementation is getting affected. We have deputy directors to assist the in-charge joint directors.”

Kelkar himself handles five programmes as the Mission Director of National Health Mission, in-charge Commissioner of Health, in-charge Food Safety Commissioner, in-charge Director of AYUSH and in-charge Director of Karnataka Drug Logistics Society.

“When deputy directors are given joint director duties, roles and responsibilities, functioning becomes difficult,” said the source. Out of six sanctioned posts for additional directors in the department, three are vacant, and out of three sanctioned posts for directors all are vacant and are being held by in-charge officials.


Dr K Srinivasa Gowda, in-charge Additional Director of Karnataka Drug Logistics Society and in-charge Director Indian Population Project
Dr CR Srinivasa Gowda, in-charge Director State Institute of Health and Family Welfare (SIHFW), and joint director, SIHFW
Dr Srinivasa Gowda K, in-charge Additional Director Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society
Om Prakash Patil, in-charge joint director Ophthalmology, Non-Communicable
Diseases, in-charge Joint Commissioner Food Safety Commissionerate
Dr Rajani BN, in-charge deputy director, Leprosy, and deputy director, Nutrition.