Uttarakhand is preparing a plan to deploy doctors in the hill areas on a rotational basis, the health minister said on Wednesday, hoping to improve healthcare in some of the most underdeveloped and far-flung areas of the Himalayan state.
The state has long struggled to persuade doctors to serve in the hill areas due to the backwardness of the areas, leaving a large section of the population deprived of proper healthcare.
Around 35 lakh of the state’s 1.1-crore people live in nine districts which are in the hills.
“The move will create an environment for the doctors (to serve willingly) for shorter durations as most of them resist serving in the remote locations on a long stretch,” health minister Surendra Singh Negi told HT.
The move will help create a “win-win situation” for both the health department and the local residents, he said.
Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000 with the aim of ensuring development in the hills which comprise 86% of the state’s geographical area.
But over the years, the hills have seen large-scale migration of people to the plains, leaving hundreds of villages without a single household.
The minister said the health directorate has been asked to chalk out a detailed proposal and the government is planning to launch the rotation scheme soon after the monsoon season.
“Besides simply deploying doctors on rotation at remote health units, we will also try to hold mobile surgical camps with the help of these doctors (on rotation),” Negi added.
According to the health department, Uttarakhand has a shortage of over 52% doctors and 73% specialists at present, which has impacted healthcare services over the years.
The Provincial Medical Health Services Association (PMHSA), the umbrella body of government doctors in Uttarakhand, on the other hand, said that the doctors were willing to serve in remote locations provided the benefits of dynamic assured career progression (DACP) scheme were given to them.
The DACP ensures four time-bound pay progressions or assured salary hike in fixed tenures during a doctor’s service, one each at the end of the fourth, ninth, 13th and 20th year of his/her service.
“Like the government, we (doctors), too, want the healthcare services to improve in the state and are ready to serve in the remote locations. But at the same time all the doctors should get benefits of the DACP scheme immediately which the government had promised us earlier this year,” said Naresh Singh Napalchyal, the general secretary of PMHSA.
“Besides, we should also be given the basic facilities in remote areas so that the doctors can serve properly in those locations,” he added.