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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Panel recommends one-year mandatory rural service for medicos

Suggests a stipend of not less than Rs.10,000 a month

CHENNAI: Any medical student who wants to apply for a postgraduate course will have to complete a year’s service in a rural area, the Sambasiva Rao Committee, constituted to examine the possibility of introducing compulsory rural service for medicos, has recommended.

The Hindu has learnt reliably that this aspect is the key recommendation made by the committee, which submitted its report to the Union Health Ministry over a month ago.

Ministry officials said the report clearly stated that anyone who wanted to apply for a postgraduate degree in medicine (or any specialities) in any institution — private or public — within the country would have to put in a year’s service in a rural area.
Without a certificate attesting the one-year rural service, students’ applications for any postgraduate course would not be considered, sources in the Ministry added.

The committee has also recommended that the students be paid a stipend of not less than Rs.10,000 a month for the one-year period. icon_cry.gif

Further, the committee has also recommended that any medico wanting to join the government medical service would also have to put in one-year service in a rural centre — primary health centre, taluk level hospital and a non-taluk level hospital. They would be paid the same stipend and additionally, this one year would be counted as part of their service. This clause has been framed in order to provide an incentive to medicos to sign up for government jobs, officials said.

The Sambasiva Rao Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of R. Sambasiva Rao, former Vice-Chancellor, NTR University of Health Sciences, Vijayawada, after students protested against the Union Health Ministry’s suggestion that one-year rural posting be made compulsory after the five-and-a-half-year MBBS course. It was then stated that it was being done under the National Rural Health Mission project to augment the number of doctors in rural India.

Students, primarily in Tamil Nadu, began their protests in September last and later, went on a protracted fast in support of demands. They objected to lengthening the already extended MBBS course and said it would affect their career prospects.

The six-member panel, led by Mr. Rao, conducted public hearings in various medical colleges in about 20 cities and towns to elicit views of students, their parents and faculty members.

Officials added that the Ministry was perusing the recommendations and would take a decision in a couple of weeks.

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