DHANGADHI, Nov 1: Insufficiently-trained health workers have long been administering anesthetics to patients across the far west as the whole region is devoid of anesthetists.
Whether at public hospitals or private clinics, assistant health workers (AHWs) and auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), who have participated in only six-month trainings for administering anesthetics, have been performing the most audacious part of surgery -- something that only well-trained anesthetists are supposed to do.
The locals of the region, who need to undergo major surgeries, have been visiting nearest Indian cities as they do not feel safe to be administered anesthetics by inadequately-trained health workers. Many people have lost their lives after being administered anesthetics by insufficiently-trained health workers in recent times.
"We don´t have a single anesthetist in the whole region," said Dr Ganesh Singh, medical superintendent of Seti Zonal Hospital. "We are forced to make do with health workers, who have attended only six-month courses on anesthesia, even when we need to conduct major surgeries. Using health workers as anesthetists is the last resort. We use them only when we need to conduct emergency surgeries."
It is not that the zonal hospitals of the region have no posts for anesthetists. The government has allocated one post of anesthetist for Seti and Mahakali Zonal Hospitals each. However, these posts have been lying vacant for many years now. Dr Singh says the Seti Zonal Hospital has never had an anesthetist ever since its inception.
Dr Nar Bahadur Mauni, an orthopedic surgeon at Padma Hospital in Kailali district, complains that surgeons are having a hard time due to the lack of well-trained anesthetists. "The role of an anesthetist is as important as that of a surgeon," he said. "It is unsafe employ health workers to administer anesthetics."