'NHM is the backbone of the health system in Nagaland'

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | June 14

“Today, if we cease our work, our reporting system relating to the COVID-19 pandemic will collapse. Reporting is time bound and for that matter, sample collection and testing are handled by NHM,” a doctor from NHM, currently serving in a far flung district of Nagaland asserted. This comes in the wake of the state government’s decision to regularize the post of 27 contractual doctors, following which, the National Health Mission Employee Association (NEAN) has called for an ‘indefinite cease work’ starting June 14.

“For us, apart from performing COVID-19 duty, we also have to fulfil our routine duties and we work extra hard because our performance is always taken into account when we apply for extension every passing year,” the doctor said. Having served for almost a decade in an interior district of the state, he also noted that quite a number of NHM employees are over-aged. “If they (government) are creating that many posts, at least look after NHM employees also,” he added.

In its notification for appointment of the post of the 27 doctors to effectively tackle the present pandemic of COVID-19 in the state, the Health and Family Welfare Department had clearly mentioned in the terms and conditions that “the appointees shall have no right to claim for regularization of the contingency service on any ground whatsoever.”


However, the cabinet’s decision to approve the regularization of these posts has clearly dismayed the NHM employees, who have been serving for several years and particularly being in the forefront ever since the pandemic hit the state.

In the light of the situation, the NHM employees feel that the services they have rendered for many years have been taken for granted. As a ‘special act’ in view of the pandemic without following any laid down rules, another NHM doctor articulated, “why can’t we be among the exception? If others are being recognized for their efforts, are our efforts not worth it? Does it not matter?”

“The NHM employees are already working in the hospital's COVID-19 Wards, putting in their best efforts even while risking their lives as frontline workers. Is that not courage? Why regularise some who are yet to join the fight?” she further posed. Mention may be made here that the salaries of the new recruits are fixed at Rs 72,832 for Medical Officers and Rs 79,509 for Junior Specialists while the base salary for Medical Officers is only Rs. 45000, a stark revelation of the pay discrepancy.

“As per the employment law on length of service, NHM employees fulfil the criteria,” the doctor further pointed out while stating that “it is totally unfair on the part of the government to regularize the recent recruits even before actually performing their duty.” Asserting that NHM is the backbone of the health system in Nagaland, she said that as per the department’s notification dated June 4, for those who have submitted their resignations to withdraw it, the NHM employees, knowing the situation, decided not to submit their resignations in the present pandemic.

Sidelining the NHM’s demand for “Equal Work, Equal Pay”, the cabinet has approved the regularization, the doctor, who has served for over 10 years stated.

Also reacting to the Principal Director, H&FW, Dr Vizolie Suokhrie’s statement that, “this regularisation has the approval of the Cabinet, and there is no question of ‘fair or unfair’ because in a situation where nobody wants to apply, some people have come and that is one thing,” the doctor asserted that, “NHM Contractual staffs have been assisting the regular state employees over the years, some even having served 10 to 15 years, in delivering health care especially to the remotest area.”

She emphasized that “they have been at the forefront ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started and their presence is visible and known by all, but always ignored when it comes to being rewarded or recognized for their hard work. If it’s anyone whose job needs to be regularized, then it’s the NHM employees and all the contractual staffs.” In the meantime, on foreign medical graduates being rejected by the Medical Council of India (MCI) screening exam, she commented that “MCI test is a must,” while substantiating that, “that way we are screening for quality because if MCI, our premier institute rejects them as not ‘good enough’ to practice, why should Nagaland take them? We also want good doctors to take care of us.”