K. Sudhakar. (Photo: Twitter@mla_sudhakar). Image Source: IANS News

Bengaluru, Jan 22 : A miffed Karnataka Health Minister K. Sudhakar on Friday said separating health and medical education departments would affect the vaccination drive in the state.

"Separating health and medical education ministries could weaken the state's vaccination effort, as 60 per cent of district hospitals are under the latter and the remaining under the former," Sudhakar told reporters a day after Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Thursday hived off both departments and allocated medical education to senior cabinet minister J.C. Madhuswamy.

Ironically, the Chief Minister merged both the departments in October 2020 and gave the health portfolio to Sudhakar, who has been a minister for medical education since he joined the government in February 2020, ostensibly, for better coordination of the fight against the raging Covid across the state.

B. Sriramulu, who was holding the health and family welfare portfolio, was made minister for Backward Classes Welfare, which was earlier with Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol.

Coincidentally, the Covid tally began to decline gradually since mid-October across the southern state under Sudhakar, a medical doctor by profession.

"If health and medical education departments are under a single command, the vaccination drive will be effective. I will prevail upon the Chief Minister not to separate the two ministries," asserted Sudhakar.

Sudhakar, who defected from the Congress and joined the ruling BJP, was re-elected from the Chikkaballapur assembly segment in December 2019 by-elections.

"Health and Medical Education departments are under one ministry in all state governments across the country except in Karnataka, where it was split for political reasons," reiterated Sudhakar.

As health and medical education departments were separate, coordination suffered at the peak of Covid pandemic in the state, Sudhakar recalled.

Hinting that the second wave of the pandemic may come to India belatedly, Sudhakar said the two departments have to work together to prevent the virus spread again and accelerate the vaccination drive at the same time.

"I don't know what he (Yediyurappa) has in his mind. If health and medical education departments don't coordinate, it will be difficult to face when the second wave of the pandemic hits us," said Sudhakar.

Though Yediyurappa on Friday reshuffled portfolios of some ministers who resented the departments allocated to them on Thursday, the medical education department was not taken away from Madhuswamy.

"It's the Chief Minister's domain to decide on portfolios. I can't tell what he should have done. I am not sticking to any portfolio. The two departments need to work together so that citizens get the vaccine," added Sudhakar.

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