The rural healthcare system in Jammu Division is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the acute shortage of medical personnel across all health care institutes falling under the jurisdiction of the Directorate of Health Services Jammu (DHSJ).
As per the official figures, 645 medical officer positions and 157 consultant positions are lying vacant in various hospitals, Primary Health Centers (PHCs), and Sub-District Hospitals (SDHs) across Jammu Division.
The statistics were obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) file by MM Shuja.
An official said the acute shortage of crucial medical professionals severely compromises the ability of these healthcare facilities to deliver adequate and timely care to the rural population.
As per the official documents, the Directorate of Health Services Jammu has stated that steps are being taken to address the staffing vacuum by referring the vacancies to the recruiting agency.
However, the pace at which these positions are being filled remains a cause for concern.
The official documents have revealed that the Administrative Department had created 61 temporary posts of Dental Surgeons for Jammu Division in 2011.
"However, due to their temporary nature and as per Government Order No.499-HME of September 19, 2011, these positions are considered surplus over the sanctioned strength. The directive explicitly prohibits fresh recruitment against retirees, and any surplus positions are to be posted against existing unfilled posts," the document reads.
Regarding the dental surgeon positions, the DHSJ has stated that the last recruitment was done on June 27 of 2012, indicating a prolonged period of inactivity in addressing this particular shortage.
The official figures released by the DHSJ disclose a disturbing imbalance in the staffing levels.
In the gazetted category, out of the sanctioned strength of 2171 posts, only 1184 are filled, leaving 987 positions vacant. Similarly, in the non-gazetted category, where the sanctioned strength is 9311 posts, only 6368 are filled, and a whopping 2943 positions remain unfilled.
Also, several critical health facilities such as CHC Gandoh, Trauma Hospital Mahanpur, SDH Paddar, CHC Mandi, and CHC Gool are without Gynecologists, further jeopardizing maternal and women's health services in these areas.
The health department is also grappling with a scarcity of paramedical staff 1068 vacancies for Para Medical Staff out of which 904 are promotional posts. The remaining 164 posts have been referred to the Administrative Department in 2020 and 2021, and their status remains uncertain.