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    NRHM AYUSH Therapist on the Brink of Termination

    Kerala: Therapists under AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, sidha, and homoeopathy), a major initiative of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), are facing threat of termination. Around 130 therapists will be forced to quit the job owing to the expiry of five-year project.

    “They will be terminated from March 31. But hospital management committee (HMC) can take a decision on them whether to absorb and allow them to continue at the same hospital. It is up to the decisions of each HMC,” said Dr M Beena, NRHM, state mission director.

    “We have been working here for the past three years and hearing that we will be terminated from the job,” said Ajeesh Babu, a therapist from North Paravoor Ayurveda Hospital. He said they are being paid a meager `9,140 per month 

    Dr Haridas, state programme manager, AYUSH, said it was a five-year project that began in 2009. Therapists were appointed after one or two years. All the candidates were appointed on yearly basis. The same thing may happen next year also as the second project began in 2010 and will expire by 2015.

    Another issue is regarding their remuneration. The therapists haven’t been paid for the last several months. 

    “I am working here for nine months without salary. I got the last salary very delayed,” said Sibin Rajan, a therapist at District Ayurveda Hospital, Ernakulam. “Till now we have not kept away from the duties or disrupt the functioning of the hospital even though we were not paid properly,” said Vijith Kumar, therapist from Payyanur Ayurveda Hospital.

    “Funds were allocated from Centre through AYUSH, but it always gets delayed. The pending salary will be paid even after the termination. So they need not have any worries on salary,” said Dr Haridas.

    Therapists alleged that along with them, 16 homoeo and 26 ayurveda medical officers were also under termination threat but they were absorbed to NRHM project. “In the absence of professional therapists, work will be undertaken by nurses and nursing assistants. They are not qualified for the therapist course. In Ernakulam district there is only one PSC appointed therapist so far and presently this post is vacant owing to maternity leave,” Sibin Rajan said.

    “We had recommended government to create posts for therapists in ayurveda hospitals. It is lagging due to election,” said Dr Anitha Jacob, director, Indian Systems of Medicine.

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