The Health Ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) are at loggerheads again.
Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss had said on Wednesday:
The government had decided to make one-year combined rural posting mandatory for doctors seeking post-graduation from the next academic session.
Now the MCI says that compulsory rural posting of doctors was “not feasible” as it would lengthen the medical education course and disturb specialization schedules. MCI Chairman, Ketan Desai went on to say:
“MCI has already taken sufficient steps to increase the strength of medical practitioners in rural areas. Of the 130 medical colleges opened since 1997, 101 are in rural areas. It is mandatory for all new colleges to have a minimum 25 acres of land, which is not possible in urban areas such as Delhi and Mumbai.”
The health ministry wants doctors stationed at primary health centres, community health centres (at sub-district level) and district headquarters for four months each during rural postings. For this, they will get a monthly stipend of Rs 10,000. MCI’s argument is that doctors in rural postings do not get to hone their skills due to lack of infrastructure.
The fact remains that attempts to compel doctors to serve in rural areas have failed miserably. They are trained in tertiary care centres and then expected to perform in areas which barely have electricity and water. It is a state of disillusion as the young doctors are frustrated with their ‘learned helplessness’. If the infrastructure is improved, working conditions are satisfactory and the incentives (monetary and job satisfaction) exists, doctors will willingly serve these areas. To expect novices just out of college to completely shoulder the burden of the nation’s top priority is ridiculous.
As for MCI’s claim of opening medical colleges in rural areas, it is a sham. For the private owners have long since, converted the noble profession into a business. How many students who have been forced to pay through their nose for their education would choose to serve in rural areas, instead of logically ‘recovering’ their investment as soon as possible.#respond