Mumbai: Rural Service seems to be out of preference of young practitioners. Despite the law of the land calling for mandatory rural services in many of the states, a recent report in Mid-day has pointed out that doctors are reneging from their bond contracts calling for mandatory rural service.
An Mid day filed RTI has revealed during the year slab of 2011 to 2015, more than half of students who passed out of the courses from the Grant Medical college/ JJ group of hospitals, have opted out of the one year bond of serving in rural areas and fulfilling the requirements of the bond they signed.
In particular,645 MBBS students passed out of the group of institution out of which 354 students opted out of the bond. Moreover, it also revealed that Sir JJ group of hospitals failed to collect fines from these students.
This bond came into effect after, the Bombay High Court order in 2013 which stated each doctor after their MBBS and PG courses in the state would serve one year in rural hospitals. According to the bond, each student signing it is entitled to pay a fine of Rs 15 lakh (for MBBS students) and R 50 lakh (for PG students), in case they fail to abide by it or violate any of its clauses.
In the bond, students are given an option to serve in rural areas or in a public hospital in urban areas.The daily reports that while most students prefer to work in urban set ups, there are many who sign the bond to serve in rural areas, only to default on it later.
The government spends around Rs 5 Lakh on each MBBS student and provide them with all the basic facilities to complete their graduate and post graduate level medical studies free of cost. Seeing to the shortfall of doctors in the rural area laid medical institutions, the government however, makes each student studying on the said government expenditure, to sign a bond that restricts them to work for atleast one year in rural areas in government institutions.
It was noted that around Rs. 71 Lakh have been taken from some of the students who violated the bond, but many students are not charged any money.
The dean of the college, Dr. TP Lahane, denied the claims in the RTI and stated that “Now, the number of students opting out of the bond has decreased and we always fine students who don’t serve the bonds. It is just an allegation that students opt out.”
Various activists criticizing the matter want stricter action from the government and the administration of the government institutions regarding the matter.Lini Chaudhury, a health activist said that “The authorities should make it compulsory for students to work in rural hospitals,” said Lini Chaudhuri, another health activist.
Another health activist, Ravikant Singh, stated in this respect that Colleges should ensure that students opt for the bonds. But for months after completion of their courses, Directorate of Medical Education and Research fails to provide them the placements for the bond, which also discourages students.
With lack of infrastructure, paramedical support, as well as decent pay, students find it discouraging to join rural service
“In most rural hospitals, students have to work 24/7 which is inhuman. In comparison, the money paid is very little,” said Dr Swapnil Meshram, president of central Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.