Health officials have started demanding private vehicles which could easily ferry them to scheduled meetings, nursing homes and sites where malaria breakout is reported. They say this will help them work more efficiently.
Citing the increased travel expenses due to malaria curbing operations, the BMC health officials are demanding private vehicles to ease the commute.
They have pushed forward their long-standing demand for private vehicles to ferry them to meetings, sites of malaria outbreak and nursing centres, so they can do their work competently. Since August 1, the city has seen nearly 6,800 malaria cases and 66 deaths.
"We have to inspect larvae control activity and private nursing homes in different localities in the ward to see whether they are flouting any rules," said a medical health officer. "If we are expected to inspect an array of activities, we should also be entitled to a vehicle to do it regularly."
Each of Mumbai's 24 wards has a medical health officer (MHO) responsible for dispensaries in the ward and to oversee anti-larvae measures, private nursing homes, and eateries.
The BMC had earlier sanctioned a specific amount for fuel to officers who had private vehicles but it was discontinued. Currently each MHO is entitled to a travel allowance that runs into a few hundreds.
"During the monsoon, we had to travel from CST or Parel every day for day-long meetings at the head office. All through, we had to use public transport," said another MHO.
"The MHOs have requisitioned for vehicles and I have forwarded the demand to higher authorities. They are supposed to be present when breakouts occur in the ward. So a vehicle comes handy," said Dr G T Ambe, executive health officer of the BMC, adding, "The demand is nothing new. But due to the regular meetings on malaria that they are expected to attend, it became urgent."
But funds for the vehicles may not be easy to come by. The insecticide department of BMC has already overshot its budget of Rs 18 crore to buy larvicidal and fogging chemicals to curb malaria.
Health Committee member, Shubhda Gudekar, said, "If we accept the request of health officers then we will have to give cars to officials from other departments as well. They have to conduct inspections too. Malaria is seasonal and we cannot sanction cars for just three months."
She pointed out that every ward has an emergency squad that includes a vehicle, which can be used by the MHO and their subordinates.
BMC Additional Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar, said, "We have discussed this issue in a few meetings but I am yet to receive a formal proposal for the same."
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