No takers for govt’s Rs 50K offer to docs for work in remote areas

Even those who owe their berth in medical colleges to ‘backward areas’ show no interest
Srinagar: About a month ago, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir issued a circular which stated that the health department would provide additional monetary benefits of Rs 50,000 to those doctors who will volunteer to serve in far-flung areas.
“We issued a circular that if a doctor will volunteer to go to far-flung areas like Gurez, the department will pay 50, 000 rupees in addition to his existing salary,” Director of Health Services Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman told Kashmir Reader.
“However, not a single doctor has turned up till date. The offer is still open and if somebody wants to avail it, he or she can apply at our offices,” he added.
The shortage and even lack of doctors in the state’s remote areas is despite the fact that every year, 34 percent of the MBBS students admitted to Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) do so by availing reservation certificates: belonging to backward areas (20%), to a Scheduled Tribe (6%), to a Scheduled Tribe of Leh (2%), to a Scheduled Tribe of Kargil (2%), to Other Scheduled Tribe (1%), and as Resident of Actual Line of Control (3%).
A doctor at Government Medical College Srinagar said that every year, about 150 students get admission in the MBBS course at the college.
“Out of that number, 50% are from reserved categories,” he said.
As per reservation rules, health officials told Reader, it is mandatory for those MBBS students who get enrolled in GMC by availing reservation certificates to serve in their own respective areas.
“These students give in writing to the government that they will serve in their areas. But it does not happen. After completing their MBBS, they apply for post graduate courses and then look for jobs in Srinagar or in their district headquarters by again availing their reserved status. Nobody wants to go to the far-flung areas to serve people,” said a senior health official.
“Another reason is that the MBBS students who avail the reservation category predominantly come from influential families. They already reside in towns and cities. They avail the certificates only to get admissions and jobs. They do not want to go back to their homes,” the official added.
Health officials said that the government is not able to compel the doctors to go to their respective villages because they belong to influential families. “Besides, the doctors earn more money in Delhi or Srinagar. The government should further incentivise the offer so that doctors go and serve in backward, distant places,” officials said.
According to media reports published in 2016, the situation in rural health centres and district hospitals reached a “bleeding point” as most of the doctors posted in rural areas had left their rural posting through deputations for government medical colleges based in Srinagar. Reports stated that 879 doctors were presently on deputation to the Medical Education Department which includes two government medical colleges and other departments.
As per the official data quoted by newspaper reports in November 2016, 900 posts of doctors were lying vacant in the state while 3,690 health institutions in the state suffered from lack of proper infrastructure and management.