NEWS

Medicos’ dharna at Jantar Mantar draws overwhelming response

Friday, August 9, 2013

by Vidhi Rathee

New Delhi: In an overwhelming response, hundreds of doctors and medical students on Thursday took part in a demonstration at Jantar Mantar here to protest against the recent amendment in the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations of the Medical Council of India (MCI) which makes one year rural posting in a primary health centre (PHC) mandatory for becoming eligible to take admission in a PG course.

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The students demanded that the rural posting should be made voluntary and should not be an eligibility criterion for applying for PG courses.

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Defying water cannons by police, doctors and students of several premier medical colleges and hospitals in the capital including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Vardhman Mahavir Medical College (VMMC) & Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC), Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) and the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) struggled to march towards the Nirman Bhavan where the union health ministry is located.

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The protest was part of ‘Save the Doctor’ campaign, which had the support of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Delhi Medical Association (DMA) and Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI).

Rohit Mehtani, a final year student of the University College of Medical Sciences, told AalaTimes, “We are not against rural posting. We are just against adding an additional one year after MBBS. Rural posting should be a part of the PG curriculum. Also, the primary health centre should be inspected by a team of doctors before we are posted there and the state should take responsibility of the doctors posted in the PHC.”

Siddharth Saxena, an undergraduate student of the University College of Medical Sciences, who was also a part of the delegation of medicos that met Chandra Kishore Mishra, additional secretary and Dr Vishwas Mehta, joint secretary of the union health ministry at Nirman Bhavan on Thursday, told AalaTimes, “We put forward three-four demands in front of Shri Mishra and Dr Mehta. Firstly, the mandatory rural posting should be made voluntary and the respective state governments should take the responsibility for providing security to doctors posted in rural areas. Secondly, the PHCs in rural areas should be inspected from time to time by an independent panel of doctors. The student representatives wanted them to be consulted in this matter as it concerns their career prospects. Thirdly, the government should take care of the security of the doctors posted in the PHC. Fourthly, rural posting should be completed within the duration of MBBS or PG. One extra year should not be added.”

“They assured the students that the government would examine their grievances and take necessary action. But the press release issued by the health ministry is just not what they had promised. The doctors and the medical students are not happy with the press release. We believe that the government has not delivered on its promise,” he said.

Ankit, a student of AIIMS, told AalaTimes, “Rural posting can be incorporated during the MBBS internship or postgraduate training so that one precious year is saved. We spend around 8.5 years into studies to become a doctor. We need basic facilities and adequate security to work in a rural area. We have no option left but to voice our concerns through protests. The twin problems of lack of postgraduate seats and acute shortage of specialist doctors are already a harsh reality of the medical profession. On top of it making rural posting mandatory for entering PG courses will only discourage any effort to plug the widening gap between the (need and availability of) health services.”

Urvashi Kala of Lady Hardinge Medical College appealed the government to make rural posting voluntary and not compulsory. She told AalaTimes, “The decision of rural posting is going to affect a lot of MBBS students adversely. Our fight is not against rural posting, rather a broader view that includes postings in rural area only after PG. We know how much time it takes for us to become a doctor. The present proposal will only increase our hardships.”

Anand Sharma, an undergraduate student of Maulana Azad Medical College, who took part in the protest, told AalaTimes, “I am not entirely against rural posting. But there are no proper labs at PHCs to carry out the research; primary health centres are in tatters. There are also no lab attendants or nurses to accompany doctors. The infrastructure is also poor. Most of all, the question of safety of female doctors looms large over the provision of rural posting.”

Sharing her experience about the protest which she took part in, Priyal Rhenjen Garbyal, another MBBS student of MAMC, told AalaTimes, “We, the medical students of India, are not against the idea of rural stint; however, making it compulsory and a pre-requisite for sitting in the PG entrance exams is not justified in any way. What we demand are the following: Firstly, one year of rural posting should be included within the existing three year duration of PG. Secondly, students willing to do voluntary rural service should be given incentives or preference in PG seats. Thirdly, PHCs should be inspected by a team of doctors to ensure proper infrastructure, security and provision of adequate medical facilities.”

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Garbyal added, ”We had staged a peaceful protest on July 18 but our attempts went unnoticed by the authorities. But the protest at Jantar Mantar on Thursday managed to wake up the health ministry from its slumber. Barricades were broken, water cannon was fired and some of us were even lathi-charged, but in the end we are only happy that the health ministry agreed to talk to our representatives and discuss the matter with them. We witnessed the power of student movement that day. It was epic!”

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No doubt, the protest gave a sounding to the health ministry about the discontent of medical students with the existing provisions of mandatory rural posting. The students felt that only a flexible approach towards it, keeping in mind the upgraded infrastructure and proper cohesion between training of young doctors and treatment facility in rural areas, could help in getting their support and coordination.

by Vidhi Rathee

Categories: NEWS

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7 Comments »

Comment by BlessedCitizen
2013-08-10 01:52:46

Only in a country like ours does it require protests and enduring water cannons and lathi-charge to merely speak with people who control our lives. The level of control being exerted has been oppressive for doctors for a long time; now these hare-brained idea of forcing people into rural service is going to further worsen our situation. I must say, that taking up medicine was the worst mistake of my life – and I am merely echoing the sentiments of most undergraduates I have interacted with.

 
Comment by Santosh
2013-08-10 04:14:40

Because of the current method of UG selection which is strongly biased to select only the urban students who could afford those costly coaching centers to prepare for entrance exams or pay Rupees sixty lakhs to join a private medical college. Since they have no experience about rural areas it is a nightmare for them to think about working in a place without electricity or roads. The student should be given exposure to the PHC where he/she is going to work from the first clinical year itself.Safety and security would be a concern for every Indian parent especially in the light of heinous crimes against women in this country.As a young graduate I took a voluntary rural posting after my MBBS. I can look back and vouch for the fact that rural postings will definitely make a wiser doctor with a better understanding of the needs and social circumstances of our community.

 
Comment by Dr.L.V.Raghav Rao
2013-08-10 05:24:51

It is unfortunate that Government is obsessed with rural posting for Junior doctors who have just finished theoretical training and entering practical training where they need to be supervised by senior Doctors. The government in its administrative wisdom is counting thes budding Doctors to hoodwink the rural populace. The junior doctors are well within their rights to protest as this move will further increase duration if their basic degree. As it is the time one has to wait to get a postgraduate seat is on an average of 3-5years, by the time one comes of training, a Medical student has to spend is 12 to 15 years. I agree with the striking Junior doctors that the rural posting may not be the eligibility of a seat. Instead, the Government can try to post the first years of their jobs in rural settings. Further, like field postings in army, all the people getting promoted should do a rural stint .

 
Comment by Dr Neeraj Nagpal
2013-08-10 09:05:12

It is unfortunate and indeed condemnable that doctors / medical students were lathicharged for voicing their genuine concerns. We have already stated our position in our representation to health minister earlier
a. The Government does not have Primary Health Centres with posts for MBBS doctors in sufficient numbers (43000) every year to give guaranteed placement to all MBBS graduates. Postgraduate Medical Education regulations make it mandatory for an MBBS to be working in a Govt or Public sector rural dispensary to take advantage of rural stint in PG admission.
b. If private jobs/practice in rural areas are included for benefit in PG admissions doctors will be left to find for themselves jobs in rural areas and then get certified by local patwari, tehsildar etc to become eligible for PG. This will lead to corruption and will not solve the problem for which this solution is envisaged.
c. Girls outnumber boys in medical colleges today. Given the social norms of the nation this decision will be a deterrent as by the time they get married (usually after they get selected for postgraduation involving minimum one year of dedicated study) they will be more than 26-27 yrs age.
d. In decision of Dr Kamini Singla & Ors vs State of Punjab and ors the honorable Punjab and Haryana high court denied benefit of rural service to 1100 rural medical officers with more than 5 yrs of bonafied rural service. This means that simply working in rural area is not enough, only those employed by State Medical service like PCMS and posted in rural area will be able to avail the advantage of rural service in PG admissions.
e. The policy to give benefit of additional marks in PG exams was to be implemented only from 2013 (according to Post Graduate Medical Education (Amendment) Regulations , 2010 (part II) vide notification no MCI.18(1)/2010-Med/49070 from academic year 2013-14) hence the question of MBBS doctors not opting for rural service to avail this incentive does not arise as so far this benefit was not notified.
f. There is an argument given of how MBBS student cost 1 cr to the nation but pays pittance (in Govt colleges) hence should pay his debt to society in form of rural service. First we dispute this figure as arbitrary, exaggerated and deliberately inflated. Second Govt gives subsidy for diesel, power, food etc. Does this mean that all taxi drivers who avail the Govt fuel subsidy have to “pay their debt to society” by providing free service to poor, or mandatorily ply the taxi in rural area only. Or should all those who avail subsidized or free power distribute 5 % of their agricultural produce, or manufacturing products to areas of need over and above the various taxes Govt imposes on them. Any 5 star hotel uses a generator running on subsidized diesel and should therefore as part of its social responsibility serve 5% of its total clientele from BPL free of cost.

g. Private colleges charge an arm and a leg for medical education . How then is it justified in the name of social responsibility that an MBBS graduate from a private medical college not availing any government subsidy be forced to do rural service, probably free of cost and then pay the local tehsildar / patwari for a certificate of completion of rural service.

h. Fresh MBBS graduates even after internship have limited knowledge of practice of medicine. They need years of supervised working before they are competent to independently treat patients. General practice or primary healthcare of the kind needed to be practiced in rural areas without investigations and other facilities is tougher than practice of a limited speciality in a supervised hospital environment. Releasing fresh MBBS graduates against their will on rural population unsupervised can have disastrous consequences. This proposal simply demonstrates how low a priority health is given by our government.
Dr Neeraj Nagpal
Convenor
Medicos legal Action Group
09316517176

 
Comment by drrm
2013-08-10 10:36:05

I have a very simple solution for this. Please quit the medical profession and go into some other field where your skills and talent will given due recognition. The scene after obtaining post graduation degree is not any better because there are still no jobs in govt sector and corporates will be exploiting you. Please either pursue further education in a foreign country or leave this profession altogether…

 
Comment by thirumalai
2013-08-10 16:02:56

Only medical profession particularly allopathic doctors is facing this type of problem.there are other professions like teachers,lawyers, agricultural graduates,engineers,vetenarians etc.,who do service to humanity donot have such problems in doing their higher education. No body is bothered about this but allopathic doctors alone are targetted. in developing society every service organisation is gaining importance. Governments have failed to eradicate quackery, allowed deterioration of services in government sector hospitals and public health services.Does any bureucrat stay in any village for a day.even though he had come from a village he never wants to uplift that villlage through with available funds with the village panchayat. Ruling Politicians should see that in their area the basic requirements for a healthy peaceful living of people. Poor sanitation, inadequate poor quality of drinking water, ignorance and poverty still continue in India because of poor planning, corrupt execution and exploitation of poor men in all possible ways. rules regulations are violated. Society tries to exhibit vying with eachother who is powerful.in this situation medical education has been taken by politicians for playing their power game.Health planners should sit together with various senior eminent men who worked hard to bring health facilities to our society in the past and present . Then only this problem may end.

 
Comment by Dr.Wesley
2013-08-14 15:28:23

India is the only country where we doctors are being degraded to the core and looked down. They want us to do the rural area postings! Government should consider the following

1) An average and below average student in the higher secondary takes an engineering course in some engineering college and he earns for about nearly a lakh per month in any company which benefits the westerners.
2) From groceries to flat rents to fuel price is based on IT income.
3) People who work for western world and for their benefits are earning thrice than a doctor whereas an average medical student who comes out finishing his MBBS, who is exposing himself to every possible infection, who works for this COUNTRY, who sees people BLOOD, VOMIT, FEACES and yet does his best to others is being paid as much as a cab driver gets normally in a city!
4) Working in rural areas is so dangerous so far I’m writing very frankly a lady doctor has been brutally murdered in my hometown which was not her fault! Police took no action since it was done by politically grounded people.
5) Ultimately shame to live in this nation and do anything unless if a new government comes and changes things
6) Most people as a result rushing off to do USMLE or going abroad where they can live a rather peaceful life and earn better.

 
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