New Delhi: Officials in the health departments of India’s states and districts have lasted an average of “14-15 months” in key administrative posts between 2017 and 2020, the NITI Aayog’s latest Health Index has revealed.
The index, titled ‘Healthy States Progressive India’, ranks each state and union territory across 24 indicators to assess their performance in healthcare infrastructure delivery.
“The stability of tenure of the key administrative positions at the state and district level is an important aspect captured in the sub-domain of governance,” said the government think tank’s report.
The tenures of three key state level officials — principal secretary, mission director (National Health Mission), and director (health services) — ended up being less than 24 months in most states, the report said.
Among large states, only Andhra Pradesh and Assam have had officials occupying office for more than 24 months.
“In half of the larger states, the average occupancy of three key state level positions was 12 months or less and included Karnataka (7.7 months), Punjab (8.9 months), Chhattisgarh (9.7 months), Jharkhand (10.5 months), Haryana (10.9 months), Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra (11.0 months), Madhya Pradesh (11.1 months) and Uttarakhand (12.0 months),” said the report.
When it comes to district level officers, the average tenure of a district chief medical officer lasted “less than a year”, with tenures lasting 2.5 months on average in Odisha and 21.9 months in Kerala and Assam.
“There is clearly room for several states to decrease the frequency of transfer of administrators at the state and district level to ensure continuity, improved accountability and effectiveness,” the report said.
Hospital and staff shortages
According to the report, the highest shortfall in auxiliary nurse midwives (female health workers who focus on maternal and child health) was found in Himachal Pradesh (24.6 per cent) while the highest shortfall in medical officers was observed in Bihar (52.4 per cent).
Himachal Pradesh also reported the highest shortfall of staff nurses at primary and community health centres at 91 per cent, while Haryana was the only state not to have any shortages.
“All larger states had shortage of required specialists at the district hospitals. It varied from two per cent in Rajasthan to 58 per cent in Madhya Pradesh,” the report said.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)