The Ayush department in Kerala has given termination orders to 134 contractual therapists working in 104 Ayurveda hospitals in the state due to discontinuation of funding from central Ayush department. The health workers have been working in various hospitals for the last five years under a scheme of central Ayush department.
Meanwhile, 51 Ayurveda doctors and 22 homoeopaths who were appointed along with these therapists have been absorbed by NRHM and posted in various hospitals and dispensaries under it.
According to M Mithun Krishna, a terminated therapist from government Ayurveda hospital at Paravoor in Kollam, the hospital management committees (HMCs) functioning in the hospitals have recruited 203 qualified therapists on the advice of state NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) and appointed them for a period of five years in all the 119 Ayurveda hospitals in Kerala. They were appointed on a monthly salary of Rs.9140, but the payment was halted in the middle due to lack of fund from Ayush department. All the persons appointed were qualified the course of Ayurveda therapy (AT) from leading Ayurveda colleges.
The staff including doctors and therapists were selected in 2009 when the project was started. The list included 102 doctors and 203 therapists who were given jobs in the 104 hospitals. According to sources, though there are 119 Ayurveda hospitals in Kerala, therapists are posted only in 15 hospitals. Remaining 104 hospitals have no therapists whose services are an indispensable part of the punchakarma therapy. The terminated health workers have contacted the health minister and submitted a memorandum.
When contacted, state programme manager of NRHM Dr P Haridas said NRHM has not sanctioned a post of Therapist in ISM hospitals and these people were appointed by the respective HMCs. The amount for salaries to the employees were allotted by central Ayush department, and not by NRHM. He said the therapists were employed on contractual services under a five year scheme funded by Ayush department for the purpose of upgradation of hospitals and dispensaries.
“Now the funding has been stopped, so we had to inform the Ayush department that the term of contract would be expired on March 31. The therapists were appointed by hospital management committees”, he added.
Regarding absorption of doctors, he said they were selected after written test and interview by NRHM and for fulfilling the project of Ayush, they were deputed to state Ayush hospitals for five years. The doctors were posted from the rank list prepared by NRHM. But, he said, NRHM has no sanctioned post of therapist, so it cannot absorb the contract-expired people.
Meanwhile, Ayurveda Medical Association of India (AMAI) has come down heavily on the state government for not furnishing the utilisation certificate of the project and held that it was the reason for the stoppage of funds from the centre. Dr Rejith Anand, secretary of AMAI said he would write a letter to the centre seeking government intervention into the matter.