ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Doctors in Rural Areas

A shortage of doctors in rural India cannot be resolved by casual announcements

The parliamentary consultative committee on health has recommended mandatory rural service by medical graduates. This is not the first time that such a call has been made. The shortage of doctors in the country’s rural areas has been an issue for decades and there have been periodic suggestions, such as imposing mandatory rural service on medical graduates, to tackle the issue. The parliamentary committee also reiterated that the Bachelor in Rural Health Care (BRHC) course should be introduced to overcome the shortfall of doctors in rural areas. This again has been a source of much debate over the past few years. And yet doctors continue to avoid rural practice.

Nearly four years ago, the union health ministry then led by Anbumani Ramadoss had suggested that medical graduates wanting to do postgraduate courses should compulsorily undergo a year’s rural posting. The ministry had even appointed a committee to look into the pros and cons of the idea, but no one knows what the committee’s recommendations were and what the follow-up, if any, was. Now the ministry has made the same proposal and also said that the doctors’ salaries would be doubled. In the past, suggestions such as starting medical colleges in semirural areas, setting aside seats for applicants from rural areas, and devising community placement programmes failed to dilute the attraction that urban practice holds for doctors.

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