Official sources said the headquarters has asked the doctors working in urban primary health centres (UPHC) and other Chennai Corporation hospitals to volunteer. "Around 50 doctors have been invited to volunteer as unit health officers at the unit level. Young doctors, who do not have any co-morbid conditions, will be appointed," sources said.
The unit health officers will lead a team of sanitary inspectors and sanitary officers, and will coordinate the identification of influenza-like illness (ILI) cases in COVID-19 affected areas. The Corporation has 46 units, and each unit has three to five divisions. Apart from identifying fever cases, the unit health officers will also focus on controlling localised spurt in cases in division-level and devise focused strategies in high-intensity divisions.
"The unit health officer postings is a temporary arrangement, as they will be sent back to their regular duty once the situation normalises. The unit health officers will do the same work as zonal health officers, but at the unit level," an official said.
Presently, the Corporation has zonal health officers, who are doctors, for each of the 15 zones. They report to city health officers, while sanitary officers and sanitary inspectors appointed at the unit and division levels report to zonal health officers.
The civic body has already roped in 500 students of public health management (PG Diploma) course as temporary sanitary inspectors. While the temporary staff add to the manpower, existing sanitary inspectors point out that there was no proper direction given on how to utilise the service of the temporary inspectors.
"The students have joined the civic body as interns. With the amount of work we have after the outbreak, how can we train the interns? The senior officials should issue proper direction so that we can effectively utilise the additional manpower," said a sanitary inspector.