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Disabled health worker at receiving end of ‘inconsiderate’ decision

PANAJI: By permanently closing a gate in the directorate of health services, Campal, which houses Malaria Research Centre, the health department has closed the door on a handicapped health staffer, literally.
Fifty-year-old surveillance inspector for National Vector Borne Disease Programme Mohammad Shaikh has been at the receiving end of a decision, which has been ostensibly taken to prevent employees from moving out during office hours.
The decision on closure of Gate No 2 was conveyed to the staff by Sachin Govekar, deputy director, National Vector Borne Diseases for Goa, which has caused major inconvenience not only to patients but to medical officials and other staff members of the directorate of health services, Campal.
Among those facing the worst brunt of this decision is Shaikh, a handicapped staff member who has been collecting blood samples for the last 28 years there. He has to now sit between two locked gates of the building. He has been provided with a table and chair to carry out his duty. It has also been given to understand that he has to eat his lunch at the table. He has no access to the washroom, which is located within the building premises as both gates are locked.
Shaikh reluctantly says, “I don’t know why I am being made to suffer. They should tell me what I have done wrong. The deputy director instructed me to sit here; I am following his orders.”
It is learnt that instructions to lock the door were carried out for various reasons. According to a medical officer, the staff used Gate No 2 to move out during office hours.
The staff and Shaikh are hopeful that authorities will not turn a blind eye to their problems and on humanitarian grounds do justice to Shaikh and the patients.
The change, that was put in place a few days ago, has angered the staff. Shaikh says he was given the option of getting transferred to the urban health centre, Panaji, which he turned down as it is not structurally equipped to meet the needs of the specially-abled. He has now been asked to consider a transfer to the sub-centre in Taleigao, which, he says, he might be forced to take up if the matter was not resolved soon.
Patients coming in for blood tests are inconvenienced too. Earlier blood collection was carried out in a well-equipped room with benches where patients with high fever and rigors could rest till his/her turned arrived. At the entrance of Gate No 2 a special railing and ramp was provided for disabled persons, which can no longer be accessible.
If blood collection does stop at the directorate of health services, Campal, patients will have no other option but to go elsewhere. Patients belonging to labour class and economically backward backgrounds will have to spend a minimum of ` 20 for a case paper besides having to stand in long queue with high fever and chills.
Started off as a malaria clinic in 1986 due to the malaria outbreak when the Campal swimming pool was being constructed, the clinic located at Gate no 2 later became the Malaria Research Centre in 1990, which was a much welcomed decision as it proved to be a convenient location.
The centre was formed to control the spread of the malaria outbreak.

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