June 21, 2010

Village stint to help doctors in PG Entrance: Health Minister

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Saturday said the government is planning to give academic incentives to medical graduates who serve in villages before opting for post-graduate courses.

Medical graduates who serve in rural areas will be given additional marks which will help them while applying for post-graduate courses, he said.

'Students will get extra marks in the National Entrance Exam (NEE) for the post-graduate medical courses if they have served in rural areas,' Azad said after inaugurating an organ transplant unit at a hospital in Gurgaon.

'If the person practices for one year in a rural area he will get 10 percent extra marks, for serving two years, it will be 20 percent and for three years, 30 percent,' he said.

The proposal for making practice in rural areas compulsory for medical students was mooted in 2006 by then health minister Anbumani Ramadoss. The proposal however met widespread protest from the student and medical fraternity.

Pointing to the ministry's fresh stand on the issue, Azad said that keeping in mind the opposition to the earlier proposal the government will now give incentivise to medical students aiming for post-graduate courses for serving in rural areas instead of forcing them to do so.

'Most of the doctors are unwilling to work in rural areas, such incentives are necessary,' Azad said.

'Fifty percent seats in the post graduate diploma courses will be reserved for students who serve in rural areas for three consecutive years,' he said.

The announcement comes at a time when the government is formulating a separate course for training doctors for rural areas.

A three-year bachelor of rural medicine and surgery course proposed by the ministry aims at giving basic health training to doctors who will have a licence to serve only in rural areas.

Spelling out government's initiatives for increasing the number of doctors in the country, Azad said that the number of seats in medical colleges will also be increased.

'We will be increasing the post-graduation seats by more than 10,000 in the coming time,' he said.

The government has approved an additional 3,700 MBBS seats in government medical colleges, besides setting in motion a process to increase the number of MBBS graduates within the next five years.

Talking about the number of medical colleges in the country, Azad said new colleges will be established in states which have been backward in this area.

'Eighty percent of the medical colleges and 85 percent of nursing and paramedic institutes are in southern and western India. It is time that we laid emphasis on northern and eastern states,' he said.

The government plans to set up six new medical colleges and 270 nursing schools in next three to four years.

'Because of space constraints in urban areas, we have rationalized (the size of minimum required) land for building a medical college from 25 acre to 20 acre in cities and towns and 10 acre in metros,' the minister added.

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