ARK Foundation demands termination of officer’s service

Kohima, July 18 (MExN): ARK (Access to Rights and Knowledge) Foundation today demanded to “immediately terminate the service of the erring District TB officer (Tuensang) and replace her with a more responsible officer.”  

In a letter directed to the Health Minister and the Principal Director of the Health and Family Welfare department, the Foundation lamented that the office of the State and National TB Control programme completely failed to take corrective measures on the issues highlighted by the Foundation through couple of official correspondence. Therefore, it drew the attention of the Health Minister and the Principal Director on the issues communicated to the State TB officer (STO), RNTCP Nagaland about the “continued absence of the District TB officer in Tuensang for months altogether.”  

The Foundation alleged that the officer withdraws her monthly salary despite not attending to her duty except on World TB Day. During the period of her repeated absence, the letter said, the staffs at the TB centre has started to levy a sum of Rs 10/- per patient for “baseless reasons” such as stationary expenses that are incurred. “According to the information received, this was taxed to the patients during the time of enrolment for sputum examination. It is highly regretful to state that the respected officer was not even aware of this untoward incident happening under her centre,” it added.  

The Foundation mentioned that it had made public notice of the absence of the officer even on World TB Day on March 24, 2017 through a public notice and having received no positive response, it wrote to the State’s RNTCP on June 23, while also highlighting about the amount levied upon the patients and about the irregularity of the laboratory technician “but they chose to remain a mute spectator.”  

The issues, according to ARK Foundation, were discussed during the district level meeting on two occasions on September 20 and November 18 at the office of the CMO, Tuensang.  

Taking the advocacy issue to a higher level, ARK Foundation on July 10, 2017 wrote about the same matters to the Central TB division, Delhi, “but both the office did not have the courtesy to reply to the communiqué nor took any remedial measures,” it rued.   “During this whole process of the fiasco, TB drug shortage was reported on the July 14 at the centre, which was reported through a reliable source of a patient who was admitted in the hospital but had to buy his Anti Tubercular (ATT) Drugs from the private chemist as a result of drug shortage at the centre,” the letter further claimed.  

Ketho, president of ARK Foundation, who issued the letter, stated “this totally violates the claim of the TB program which says Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course (DOTS) are free.”  

In light of the above, ARK Foundation demanded the immediate termination of the service of the erring District TB officer. It also demanded to develop a proper supply chain mechanism of drugs so that stock out issues are addressed.  

Further, it asked to provide details of the total amount levied upon the patients since the centre’s inception and the manner in which the money were spent. Meanwhile, ARK Foundation also urged the STO to immediately install the CBNAAT machine meant for the district, which was allocated in 2016.