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Incentives for medicos to work in remote areas: Azad
Published on 2 Jul. 2009 12:01 AM IST
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In a move to overcome the “overwhelming shortage” of doctors and paramedical staff, especially in the remote corners of India, the government Wednesday announced it would be offering “monetary incentives” to encourage them to go to places that lack basic health facilities. “We will identify most difficult and inaccessible areas particularly in hilly states, northeast states, tribal area. After having identifying these areas, the ministry will help the state governments in filling up deficiencies in the strength of doctors and paramedical staff,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters. Listing out his 100 days agenda, he said: “The ministry through the NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) shall make funds available for contractual appointments and provide significantly higher monetary incentives based on location of postings.” “These will encourage medical personnel to brave the difficult conditions in such remote locations and encourage them to serve poor and needy people at cutting edge level,” the minister said. “The salary of the doctors could be almost doubled (if he works at the identified centre),” said Azad, who was flanked by his two Ministers of State for Health and Family Welfare Dinesh Trivedi and S. Gandhiselvan. At the moment, there are 22,000 primary health centres in the country and 145,000 sub-centres. “More would be added after more are identified,” the minister said. He said they will be providing the funds, while the doctors would be appointed by the states on contract. Under the NRHM, the ministry was allocated Rs.120.5 billion last year. “This is the only way to push the doctors and paramilitary staff to work in the most difficult, backward and tribal areas. This will revolutionalise the health sector,” he said. Describing shortage of specialists and paramedical staff shortage across the country as “one of the major bottlenecks” in improving the public healthcare system in India, the health minister said they are planning a “comprehensive medium and long term policy within three months to meet the deficiencies of human resources.” According to a Planning Commission report, India faces a shortage of about 600,000 doctors, one million nurses, 200,000 dental surgeons and large numbers of paramedical staff. In this direction, he said they would be setting up a National Council for Human Resources in Health as an overarching regulatory body, which he said, was announced by President Pratibha Patil in her parliament address. He said they are also speeding up work at setting up eight All India Institute of Medical Sciences-like hospitals in the country, while upgrading 19 other medical institutes. Also, the ministry is planning to upgrade medical colleges to increase post graduation medical seats in departments like gynaecology, anesthesia and paediatrics.

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