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State rural health sector faces dearth of doctors

By SANJOY RAY
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GUWAHATI, Oct 24 � Assam�s rural health sector is facing an acute shortage of doctors and medical staff with the government�s incentives for rural postings failing to evoke the desired response.

Even attempts by the State Health Department to rope in doctors from outside the State to work in rural areas of Assam have faced zero result.

With the private health sector witnessing an unprecedented boom in India, doctors are hired at inflated pay packages, which a State like Assam would not be able to afford, a source at Dispur told The Assam Tribune.

Although it is mandatory for MBBS pass-outs and postgraduates to serve at least one year in rural areas, the number of doctors opting for rural service by choice after the expiry of the compulsory posting period is very low.

This has led to a scenario where the health sector (from civil hospital and other health institutions in rural areas) of Assam is facing an acute shortage of 1,050 doctors, and 1,028 auxiliary nursing and midwifery and 5,290 general nursing and midwifery staff.

Sources at Dispur told this reporter that the private sector is willing to give a doctor almost any price they quote. �The doctors we produce every year are not enough to bridge the gap. It is an age of super specialization and once they do that, attractive options outside the State are there to be taken. We cannot stop this, obviously.

�Further, it is not feasible for the government to offer competitive packages as that would lead to a number of pay parity complications with other departments. This is the scenario on the ground,� the sources divulged.

�Rural Assam, which has been at the receiving end of poor health-care facilities, still falls short of the minimum standard set as far as the strength of doctors and nurses is concerned,� he said.

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State rural health sector faces dearth of doctors

GUWAHATI, Oct 24 � Assam�s rural health sector is facing an acute shortage of doctors and medical staff with the government�s incentives for rural postings failing to evoke the desired response.

Even attempts by the State Health Department to rope in doctors from outside the State to work in rural areas of Assam have faced zero result.

With the private health sector witnessing an unprecedented boom in India, doctors are hired at inflated pay packages, which a State like Assam would not be able to afford, a source at Dispur told The Assam Tribune.

Although it is mandatory for MBBS pass-outs and postgraduates to serve at least one year in rural areas, the number of doctors opting for rural service by choice after the expiry of the compulsory posting period is very low.

This has led to a scenario where the health sector (from civil hospital and other health institutions in rural areas) of Assam is facing an acute shortage of 1,050 doctors, and 1,028 auxiliary nursing and midwifery and 5,290 general nursing and midwifery staff.

Sources at Dispur told this reporter that the private sector is willing to give a doctor almost any price they quote. �The doctors we produce every year are not enough to bridge the gap. It is an age of super specialization and once they do that, attractive options outside the State are there to be taken. We cannot stop this, obviously.

�Further, it is not feasible for the government to offer competitive packages as that would lead to a number of pay parity complications with other departments. This is the scenario on the ground,� the sources divulged.

�Rural Assam, which has been at the receiving end of poor health-care facilities, still falls short of the minimum standard set as far as the strength of doctors and nurses is concerned,� he said.