Doctors employed by the Andhra Pradesh government had better watch. A babu invasion is on!
Earlier this week — on Wednesday, 11 January, to be precise — the government appointed IAS officer M Tirumala Krishna Babu, who is Principal Secretary in the Health, Medical and Family Welfare Department, as the new vice chancellor of the YSR University of Health Sciences (YSRUHS) — a position that is usually held by a medical doctor. Krishna Babu took over from Dr Pigilam Syama Prasad, whose tenure ended on that day.
This is not the first instance of an IAS officer taking over a key medical administration position. Last year, on 8 September, the government appointed IAS officer V Vinod Kumar as the Director of Medical Education (DME).
It is pertinent to note here that the Secretary of the Health, Medical and Family Welfare Department and the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare are cadre posts for IAS officers. And many states also post IAS officers as Directors of the National Health Mission (NHM). In the case of Andhra Pradesh, too, an IAS officer, J Nivas, is both the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare as well as the NHM Director.
But the posts of DME and those of vice chancellors of medical colleges usually go to experienced medical doctors, especially those with an academic background.
Of course, Vinod Kumar, the new DME, holds an MBBS degree, but joined the IAS soon after, so he perhaps does not have the requisite experience of practising as a doctor. Incidentally, he also holds the post of Director at the Andhra Pradesh Health Systems Strengthening Project (APHSSP).
Another post that used to be the domain of medical doctors, that of the Project Director of the Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS), is now headed by GS Naveen Kumar, an IAS officer.
The invasion of the babus has not, of course, gone unnoticed. In September, the Andhra Pradesh Government Doctors Association protested the appointment of Vinod Kumar, arguing that it was against the Medical Education Service Rules of 2002.
These rules state that the position should go to someone who has been Additional Director of Medical Education for at least two years and should have worked as Principal of a medical college or Superintendent of teaching general hospital.
The problem, a source in the Health Department told South First, is that IAS officers do not have a grasp of medical administration issues. Especially at a time several key health schemes are being implemented by the NHM. And by the time IAS officers get a handle on things, they are transferred!
The Andhra Pradesh government doctors can take heart from one fact — they are not the first (nor will they be the last) to suffer IAS encroachment into their domain. Ask IPS and IRS officers!