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Doctors by merit, not privilege

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Guest article by Sujatha Rao.
India is the only country that authorises, as official policy, the sale of medical seats by private medical colleges, implicitly accepting the principle that the ability to pay, and not merit, is what counts. Further, in the absence of any system of third party certification by way of an entry or, more importantly, an exit exam — which could guarantee the qualities and competencies a doctor must possess before starting to practice — many medical colleges are producing quacks. The tragedy is that we all know about it.
The issue is not just about illegal capitation fees that range from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.1 crore for a MBBS seat. The process of admission is itself flawed with a walk-in system for those with money but for the others, it is a harrowing tale of expensive tuitions and writing 15 to 20 examinations across the country — a process that once again excludes and deters several.
Entrance test In order to reduce the stress of multiple examinations, make it mo…

Medicos protest against rural stint for PG course

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More than 100 students of MMC on Wednesday staged a demonstration near collector’s office demanding the central government not to make rural posting for MBBS doctors mandatory. The students also demanded the government to scrap the three-year rural medical course on community medicine. Tamil Nadu Medical Students’ Asso­ciati­on (TNMSA) organised the demonstration, whose member Harinivas said, “The Union government has announced students who wish to pursue PG should compulsorily undergo one-year rural service. We are ready to do rural service, not just for one or two years, we could do it permanently. Will they make us permanent doctors in primary health centres?” Students also felt that three-year rural medicine course would divide urban and rural students. “What if rural students were asked to pursue only rural medicine course in future?” students questioned. The medical students’ association is planning to stage more such demonstrations.

PG medical students file petition in Bombay HC

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A few PG medical candidates, who have done their MBBS abroad but live in Maharashtra, have filed a plea against the state in the HC on Monday, after being denied eligibility under the state quota despite being allowed to practise. They said students from other states are allowed to apply under the quota but not them. Admissions have been stayed till Tuesday.

IIT-Kharagpur to start medical course

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The Centre has sanctioned a 400-bed superspeciality hospital on the IIT-Kharagpur campus which will have a medical college attached to it so that the premier institute can start a medical course. Once this happens, IIT-Kgp will be the only one in the chain to impart medical education alongside technology.
A 45-acre plot has been earmarked for what promises to be a modern green building with minimal energy consumption at the south-east-end of the premises. Construction is slated to begin before Durga Puja.
The Centre and IIT-Kgp have chosen public sector enterprise HSCC for the project. HSCC provides professional consultancy services in the health care sector to both state-run and private hospitals. "It is in the process of finalising the architect who will prepare the building plan, according to specifications of our own civil constructions cell," said S K Som, director of the institute.
The institute runs a master's degree course in medical technology, which has already re…

‘Rural posting is not solution to vacancies’

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The Centre’s move to make a one-year rural posting mandatory for MBBS doctors who wish to pursue postgraduate studies has evoked a mixed response from students and doctors in the city. In the past, proposals for compulsory rural practice have faced stiff opposition from medical students across the State. Nearly five years ago, the Union health ministry had proposed to extend the duration of the five-and-a-half-year MBBS course by an additional year to make rural posting mandatory. This was withdrawn after protests. A government medical college student said the latest proposal was just in a different form. “The Centre has said we can begin practice after receiving our degree but are eligible for the PG entrance exam only on completion of a year’s rural posting. This will definitely discourage many students from taking up medicine. This will also pose a difficulty to first-generation learners who look to start earning at the earliest to support their families,” he said. Kavin Kumar, coordi…

Stay on PG medical admissions in Maharashtra quota till tomorrow

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The Bombay high court has stayed the declaration of the first selection list for postgraduate medical admissions in the state quota till Tuesday.
The enrolment process, which started earlier this month, has already been delayed by several months due to a Supreme Court battle between private medical colleges and the Medical Council of India (MCI) over a single national entrance test. The selection list was to be released on June 20. Medical officers (MOs) in Maharashtra had moved the high court seeking an increase in the quota already available to them. The next hearing for the same is on June 25. Until then, the directorate of medical education and research (DMER), which conducts the PG medical admissions, will not be able to declare its first list in the 50% state quota.
Currently, MOs have around 60-70 seats reserved for them out of 600 PG seats. "Although medical officers have 25% of seats reserved, they do not opt for courses such as anatomy and microbiology. After eliminating …

‘At least six doctors will man each mandal health centre’

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About 2,000 doctors will be recruited shortly by the Medical and Health Department for filling vacant posts in hospitals and health centres in the rural areas. With rural service made mandatory for the medical graduates and post-graduates, each mandal health centre would have at least six to seven doctors in two months, said Medical Education Minister Kondru Murali in the Legislative Council here on Friday. Replying to Dr. Geyanand (PDF) who raised the issue of poor medical facilities and lack of doctors in the rural health centres, Mr. Murali said that specialist doctors would also be posted in the rural areas under the mandatory rural service. Congress members A. Lakshmi Shivakumari and B.Indira said schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana, Janani Shishu Suraksha to bring down maternal and infant mortality rate were not accessible to women in interior villages and habitations. K. Dileep Kumar (Graduate) expressing concern over sub-standard private medical colleges sought to know action tak…

No doctors at PHCs in Chikmagalur district

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Eighteen Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in the district are facing dearth of doctors. There are two sanctioned posts at Aldur and Hirebail and one each at other PHCs. But all the posts are vacant.  The district is a mix of malnad, semi-malnad and plains. Malnad is often beset with Kyasanur Forest disease and malaria besides problems of pregnant women. District Health Officer (DHO)  Neeraj told Express that in spite of attractive salary of Rs 30,000 per month, doctors are “allergic  to rural service.” He added that most of the doctors are ready to pay Rs 1 lakh as per affidavit conditions and quit the posts halfway. Meanwhile, Health Minister U T Khader, who visited the district recently, has advised the DHO to go for local MBBS doctors.

Drafting doctors to villages

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With doctors unwilling to serve in rural areas, the health ministry has acted tough and cleared a proposal making it mandatory for MBBS doctors to serve a one-year rural posting to be eligible for post-graduate courses from 2014-15. 
The situation in rural India is dire; statistics indicate a 60 per cent  shortage of general doctors and 80 per cent shortage of specialists. The health ministry’s action is the only option available after various incentives and attempts at tailoring a rural community health course and a cadre of rural doctors failed. 
However, what the statistics of doctor shortage mask is the equally poor condition of rural health infrastructure.
As on March 2011, rural India faced a shortfall of 35,762 sub-centres, 7,048 primary health centres, and 2,766 community health centres. The government also faces the daunting task of constructing buildings, supplying medicine and equipment, and staffing the centres with adequate number of nurses, assistants, lab technicians and p…

The great medical education bazaar

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It is admission time and the great medical education bazaar is in full swing. Parents are running around like headless chickens ready to mobilise bundles of cash trying to get their children into the best medical colleges. In a society that has come to accept that paying illegal capitation fees is an effective way to get good education it is little surprise that parents have no compunction in violating the law and in acceding to the demands of the colleges by paying up whatever is asked. Officially, the collection of capitation fee is banned. However, it is an open secret that many colleges continue to charge this fee with impunity. Many private medical colleges are believed to be charging between Rs.30 lakh and Rs.60 lakh as the capitation fee per candidate for an MBBS seat this year. On top of this, is the official annual fees which is between Rs.5 lakh and Rs.7 lakh a year. Thus a medico joining a private college this year under the management quota is likely to be spending anywhere…

Rural stint for doctors turns tricky

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The new Act making one-year rural service compulsory for new MBBS doctors is all set to snowball into a major controversy as chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has already signed an agreement with private medical colleges, exempting management quota students from rural stint.

Representatives of private medical colleges who hold 60% stake in the medical education sector in Andhra Pradesh say since management quota candidates do not get any government aid unlike merit students, it is unfair to force them to do a year's rural stint.


But the consensual agreement signed with the state government two months ago is likely to be overridden as the Centre is firm on fresh medical graduates across all categories doing a rural stint.


Currently, there is one doctor for every 1,950 people, but the ratio gets worse in rural areas as 75% to 80% of hospitals are concentrated in urban areas, whereas 70% of the population live in rural areas. The government might have the best intention to improve serv…

To be eligible for postgraduate programmes, doctors must undertake one-year rural posting

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TIMES VIEW

Incentives will work better
The decision of the Union government to make it mandatory for all MBBS doctors aspiring for postgraduate specialisation to undertake a one-year rural posting is unfair and impractical. Stipulating that the candidates complete their rural stint even before they sit for their postgraduation entrance examination will open the door to all kinds of manipulation to meet the eligibility criterion. For the fact remains that rural healthcare in India is in a shambles. Devoid of basic infrastructure, there is very little that doctors can do in these parts of the country. Hence, forcing doctors to move to the villages will not solve anything. 
It is true that rural healthcare suffers from an acute shortage of medical professionals — around 60% of general doctors and 80% of specialists are missing. But things have come to this pass precisely because of long-running government apathy towards healthcare. At only 0.32% of the country`s estimated GDP, the Union bud…

Medical student abducted, raped at Manipal

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There was shock and outrage through out the education hub of Manipal on Friday after the abduction and alleged rape of an MBBS student by three men while she was on her way to her hostel room, just a kilometre away from the library complex on Thursday night.
The 22-year-old student from Thiruvananthapuram was dragged into an autorickshaw by three men on a road near the pharmacology college campus. The police learnt about the assault by 1.15am after an engineering student reported he saw three people abducting catch hold of a woman and forcing her into an auto. The girl dropped her purse in the scuffle and the engineering student got her identity from her cards and alerted the campus security staff. But instead of immediately informing the police, they searched for her futilely before calling the cops. 
Last year, a 21-year-old student of National Law School of India University, too, was gang-raped in Bangalore. 
The girl returned to the Manipal institute at around 3.30am even while the p…

Rural posting must for MBBS doctors pursuing post-graduation

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The MBBS doctors aspiring to pursue post-graduation will now have to compulsorily undertake a one-year rural posting before becoming eligible for such a course.

In a major decision aimed at improving rural healthcare in India, the Union government has decided to make it mandatory for all MBBS doctors to undergo one year rural posting to sit for post-graduation entrance examination.
According to health ministry sources, a proposal to this effect was cleared by the ministry recently and Medical Council of India (MCI) is in the process of issuing a notification.
"The decision will be applicable from the next academic session (2014-15). All MBBS graduates seeking a post-graduate degree would have to work for one year in a village before they can take the PG entrance examination," said a senior official. He said the MBBS course structure and duration will remain the same.
The decision came after two years of deliberations, as the earlier proposal of increasing the duration of the MBB…

Finally, the rule's here: No PG degree for doctors without a rural stint

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Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has signed a controversial regulation that makes a year-long rural stint mandatory for doctors who want to pursue a post graduate (PG) degree in the country.
“The proposal was signed by the minister on Tuesday and will be notified in a day or two,” a senior health ministry official told DNA on condition of anonymity.
Rural areas in the country face a shortage of doctors. The doctor-population ratio in rural areas is 3/10,000, while it is 13/10,000 in urban areas. Besides, just 26% doctors work in rural areas, serving 72% of the population.
To address this dismal situation, doctors were thus far given incentives to work in rural areas; those who worked for one year got 10 marks while those who worked for three years got 30 marks for admissions in PG. However, this failed to address the issue. The one-year compulsory stint was therefore proposed in 2007 by former health minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
With the notification just around the corner, all (Bach…

Rural posting made mandatory for MBBS doctors wanting PG degree

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MBBS doctors aspiring to pursue post-graduation will now have to compulsorily undertake a one-year rural posting before becomming eligible for such a course. 
In a major decision aimed at improving rural healthcare in India, the Government has decided to make it mandatory for all MBBS doctors to undergo one year rural posting to sit for post-graduation entrance examination.
Highly placed sources in the Health Ministry told PTI that Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad cleared a proposal in this regard and the Medical Council of India (MCI) is in the process of issuing a notification. 
The decision will be applicable from the next academic session (2014-15) and all MBBS graduates seeking a post- graduate degree in medicine or surgery would have to work for one year in a village before they can take the PG entrance examination.
The decision came after two years of deliberations, as the earlier proposal of increasing the duration of the MBBS course to include a rural posting for doctors wa…

Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR University puts the brakes on the MBBS ‘break system’

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The Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University may have just found a way to get around the ‘break system’ for first year MBBS students. MBBS education in this country has always gone by the break system, wherein first year students cannot move to the next unless they clear all the papers. If a student fails even one paper, he would have to attend the classes for the first year again and can only move on to the second year after he has cleared all the papers, thus facing a ‘break’ in his collegiate education. Obviously, this was hugely unpopular with students and matters came to a deadend last year, with government college students taking to the streets against the system. An extra supplementary exam The varsity’s Governing Council, considering the request from students, resolved, on Saturday, that first year students who have failed one paper can take the supplementary exam within 15 days from when the results were out. The solution, it turns out, is simply to conduct an extra supplementary ex…