August 10, 2015 2:21:26 am
If the government proceeds to implement the recent decision by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to stop issuing No Obligation to Return to India (NORI) certificate to doctors, several medical students and medical practitioners’ aspirations to work and settle abroad may be stemmed.
Health Minister J P Nadda, in a reply to the Rajya Sabha, stated that the NORI certificate “will not be issued in any circumstance, except for those who are above 65 years of age”. The decision, the ministry said, was taken to prevent ‘brain drain’ from India.
A doctor wishing to live abroad for work or higher education has to compulsorily apply for NORI certificate from the MoHFW which allows them to settle abroad and continue working there. Now, while medical students or MBBS graduates can study abroad, the no NORI certificate will force them to return and serve patients in India.
“It is a good move only if it is extended to other professionals like engineers, accountants, etc. Why are IITians not forced to work under bond service? We will write a letter to the Prime Minister and Health Minister voicing our opposition,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, president, Medical Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), Maharashtra.
According to Dr Jayesh Lele, President elect of Maharashtra-branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA), the low salary and poor working conditions of doctors in public sector are major reasons for their wish to work abroad where a better pay is assured. “These are educated people who will be forced to work in India against their will. It is like bonded labour,” Lele claimed.
According to MoHFW, from 2010 to 2014 a total of 3,947 Statement of Need (SON) certificates and Exceptional Need Certificates (ENC) were issued to Indian doctors to permit them to pursue higher education in the United States of America. The count is expected to dwindle down with the latest decision.
Terming it as an “impractical solution”, Maharashtra Medical Council’s executive member Dr Shivkumar Utture said the government needs to sanction more government medical colleges and improve its management to ensure students study in the country itself. “If the medical education management is not proper, students will look for alternative solutions. Private colleges, with high fees structure, are booming,” he said.
Doctors claimed the government needs to improve the salary and posting structure to attract service in public health. In his response to the Rajya Sabha, Nadda stated that a number of steps have been taken to improve doctors’ working conditions. Some include increase in retirement age among teaching staff to 70 and enhancement of certain allowances such as non-practicing, conveyance and learning resource allowance.
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