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Ananya Banerjee : Mumbai, Mon Mar 19 2012,

The decision of the state government to privatise radiology services in 14 government medical colleges and all district hospitals in the state has not gone down well with the healthcare professionals, trade unions and NGOs.

At a state-level convention held on Saturday, members of these organisations have unanimously opposed the move expressing their fear of further privatisation of the public health sector.

“Following the Seven-Hills debacle, the state government should have known better than to involve the private sector into the public domain. What the government is calling a Public Private Partnership (PPP) is actually a back door entry for private organisations. There is no need for if the existing public health system can be strengthened,” said activist Kamyani Bali Mahabal.

While announcing the move to privatise the radiology services a few months ago, additional chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia had said that government hospitals had been unable to run efficiently due to the lack of competent staff. Paucity of funds was also stated as one of the reasons for the privatisation.

“There are hospitals in the public sector like Bhabha Hospital in and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi which are functioning smoothly. Once the staff is sufficiently trained, better treatment can be provided. As far as funds go, if the state government puts forth a planned proposal to the Centre seeking funds for the health care, then there will be no need to resort to privatisation,” said Dr Anant Phadke, member of the Jan Aarogya Abhiyan.

A petition having the signatures of 171 people from across Maharashtra has been sent to Vijay Kumar Gavit, health and education minister, seeking a withdrawal of the proposal.

However, there are those working within the public sector who feel that privatisation will help in boosting the quality of treatment in public hospitals.

“ Most of the public hospitals are understaffed. Technicians have to be trained separately to operate MRI and CT scan machines. If trained personnel are deployed to operate the machines, it will lead to better utilisation of manpower,” said a senior doctor from JJ Hospital.

“Machines worth crores have been sold off as scrap as no one knows how to use them. If trained people provide services, the quality of treatment will improve,” another doctor from JJ Hospital said.

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