November 26, 2007

Medicos of TN to go on ‘fast unto death’

Medicos of Government Medical colleges in Tamil Nadu have decided to go on ‘fast unto death’ from Friday after four days of protests failed to elicit a favourable response.

Medicos have been protesting since Monday this week articulating their grievances against the Union Health Ministry’s move to make a year’s service in rural areas compulsory for an MBBS degree.

After the first day of demonstrations, they started a relay fast that entered its third day on Thursday.

Two second year MBBS students of the Government Vellore Medical College (GVMC)--Jayasudha and Velvizhi--were admitted to the GVMC Hospital after they fainted on the third day of the fast. G.S. Rajesh, president of the Students’ Council, GVMC, said they were not opposed to rural service but only to the move to appoint MBBS graduates in rural areas on a salary of Rs.8000. There was no guarantee either that the job would be made permanent. Given the fact that most students, who hailed from poor families, would have to repay their educational loans on completion of their study, the offer of Rs.8000 would not be sufficient for them to repay their loan and make a living.

A pamphlet issued by the Tamil Nadu Medical Students Federation pointed out that as per the statistics furnished by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, there were 2043 community health centres, 22842 primary health centres (PHCs) and 1,37,311 health sub-centres in the country.

While 13.3 per cent posts were vacant in the PHCs, the posts of 48.6 per cent surgeons, 47.9 per cent obstetricians and gynaecologists’ posts, 46.1 per cent general doctors’ posts and 56.9 per cent child specialists’ posts were vacant in the community health centres.

Under these circumstances, the compulsory one-year rural service would lead to 29,500 doctors being deprived of employment opportunities immediately and 40,000 junior doctors losing the chance of government jobs in another 10 years, it said.

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