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Despite extra marks,docs skip rural areas

“I am sorry to say that no one has come forward to practice in rural areas,” admitted Azad.

Written by Teena Thacker | New Delhi |
May 26, 2011 3:55:47 am

Two years after Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced “extra marks” in the post-graduate entrance exam for those willing to go to rural areas,the scheme has no takers. “I am sorry to say that no one has come forward to practice in rural areas,” admitted Azad.

In a bid to encourage doctors to opt for rural areas for medical practice,Azad had in 2009 announced the granting of extra marks up 10 per cent for one year,20 per cent for two years of consecutive practice and 30 per cent for three years. The scheme was extended to in-service doctors with the idea of retaining talent in rural areas wherein they were offered 50 per cent reservation in postgraduate diploma seats if they worked in rural areas. There are about 3,500 seats for post graduation courses in government medical colleges.

“Hardly anybody has come forward to opt for the scheme,” said Azad,adding that it is difficult to know the reasons behind the doctors’ unwillingness.

Dr Randeep Guleria,a professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS),said that things will not improve unless rural areas have proper basic facilities and rural posting is declared as mandatory. “Majority of doctors go to the US after doing their MBBS from AIIMS. None of them want to go to rural areas,” he said.

“Things will improve only when the facilities in rural areas improve,” said Director of AIIMS R C Deka.

The only other option with the ministry to curtail the problem of shortage of doctors is to go ahead with the Bachelor of Rural Health Care course. The proposed course got stuck after the earlier Medical Council of India led by Dr S K Sarin refused to notify it. The course was unanimously endorsed by all states at the state health ministers’ meet held this February.

Harsher pictures for tobacco products

Alarmed with the findings of a recent survey that says the number of tobacco chewers in India has increased,the Union Health Ministry has decided to have “harsher” pictures for chewing tobacco and “harsh” ones for smoking products. “The government is in the process of deciding on the new pictures and will notify them soon,” said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

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