Mumbai: The Maharashtra government in order to provide health facilities to the remote places devised a new plan wherein a separate quota will be allotted for students who are ready to work in villages for 5 years. The government will reserve 10% quota for MBBS and 20% quota for medical post-graduation seats for the in-service doctors who are ready to work in the interior areas for 5 years and 7 years respectively.
The doctors failing to work in villages will face penalties, might get arrested and even get their degrees canceled. The state cabinet has approved the decision on Monday and a bill named Maharashtra Designation of Certain Seats in Government and Municipal Corporations Medical Colleges in Legislature to make it a law.
The reserved seats will be available in the civic and state-run medical colleges. By the parliamentary estimates, 450 to 500 seats for MBBS will be reserved for this quota while for PG the number of seats reserved will be 300.
The head of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, Dr. T.P Lahane said, “The decision has been taken to ensure that there are enough doctors to fill the primary health centers in the inferior parts of the state and so as to maintain the rural health facilities, in hilly or remote areas. Students getting seats under this quota will have to sign a bond. Any breach would attract imprisonment of five years as well as cancellation of degrees. Only those with state’s domicile certificate can opt for the quota,”
There is a pre-existing bond that says every doctor has to serve at least one year in rural areas and failing to do so might attract a hefty fine of 10 Lakhs but not many doctors work according to this bond and many don’t even pay penalties. To this Dr. Abhay Shukla of Jan Arogya Abhiyan said “It a unique approach no doubt, but one can’t help wonder if the state could have got 5000 doctors by implementing the bond concept right.”
He further added that penalties don’t work and that jailing doctors just seems too extreme. He said, “We have already seen that penalty doesn’t work. Also jailing a person seems to be too punitive a step to make doctor’s work when vast countries like Canada and Australia manage to get doctors to work in rural areas by providing good facilities.”