Doctors in Rural Areas to be Paid More
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1 July 2009
New Delhi, India
With a view to make health care facilities accessible to those living in rural areas, the government on Wednesday said those doctors willing to work in rural areas would be given “Almost double” salary compared to those working in urban areas.
The Centre now proposes to consult state governments to identify “difficult, most difficult and inaccessible areas, particularly hilly areas in North Eastern states and tribal areas in other states, for filling up deficiencies in the strength of doctors and paramedical staff,” said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, revealing the 100 day plan for his Ministry.
While implementing compulsory rural posting for medical students completing their MBBS would be a long–term plan, the ministry “through NRHM shall make funds available for contractual appointments and provide significant higher monetary incentives based on location of posting,” Azad said.
According to the Health Minister, while incentives will encourage doctors to serve the needy, hospitals in Delhi such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, Safdarjung hospital will serve as referral hospitals only. “Since the state hospitals are weak, people have to come to Delhi. Out objective is multifold and hence there is a need to strengthen Primary Health centers (PHCs), district hospital and state hospitals,” he said.
Observing that one of the main bottlenecks in improving the public health care system is an overwhelming shortage of specialist doctors, Azad said his Ministry “would formulate a comprehensive medium and long–term policy within the next three months for meeting deficiencies of human resources in the health sector.” “This would also include the initiation of setting up of a National Council for Human Resources in Health as an over arching regulatory body,” he added.
A report by the Planning Commission had reflected the problem of shortage of doctors last year. The report had mentioned that the availability of specialist doctors in Community Health Centers (CHCs) was particularly bad.
In the next three months, the Ministry also proposes to formulate a scheme for strengthening and upgrading state government medical colleges, and increasing postgraduate seats in departments such as gynaecology, anaesthesia, pediatrics where there are critical shortages.
To enable district–specific reporting of progress in NRHM, the Ministry also proposed the setting up of a web–based health management information system, which would be made operational by next month.