The order issued by Kerala Health Department Director VR Raju said medical officers and health workers need to be cautious and take prior permission from the department before giving out information publicly.

Veena George health minister FB photo
news Government Sunday, December 05, 2021 - 17:45

In a recent government order issued by Kerala Health Department Director VR Raju, District Medical Officers (DMOs) in the state have been directed not to speak to the media without getting permission from higher authorities. “The media has been reporting news on the functioning of the Health Department and various other related matters. But many reports are not reaching the public accurately. Such fictitious reporting will create misunderstanding among the public, by creating unnecessary fear over the disease spread and also tamper with the image of the department,” the order said.

Considering this situation, the order said every medical officer and health worker needs to be cautious and take prior permission before giving out information publicly. “Officers are not allowed to give out information without permission from the department under any circumstances. In case of an emergency where it is necessary to provide information, they need to verify the facts and get approval from the department,” the order further said.

The order applies not just to sharing COVID-19 information, but all Health Department related matters.

In the meantime, there are complaints that senior officials rarely pick up the phone or answer questions from the media. In this background, there are concerns that no information will be shared if the DMOs too are restrained from speaking to the public.

Ironically, state Health Minister Veena George is a former journalist and also held the post of executive editor of a TV news channel.

Recently, there were media reports that action was taken against a tribal welfare officer in Attappady for revealing certain details about the Kottathara tribal hospital to the media. Chandran, the officer, had told the media that Rs 12 lakh was given to EMS Memorial Co-operative Hospital & Research Centre in Perinthalmanna from the tribal welfare fund, to treat patients who are referred there from the Kottathara tribal hospital. There were allegations that the fund could have been used for the development of the Kottathara hospital itself rather than giving it to a hospital in another district.