Doctors who agree to postings in inaccessible and remote areas — especially in hilly states, the Northeast and tribal regions — will get double the pay their counterparts in cities draw.
“Doctors and paramedics don’t want to work in remote, rural areas as they have no incentive to stay there. This leads to absenteeism or people seeking transfers to cities,” said Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, announcing his 100-day agenda for the health sector.
“To make the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) work better, we plan to offer them double of what they would get in the cities.”
Topping the Health Ministry’s agenda is incentives for rural postings, the setting up of an overarching regulatory body for all medical education and a Central Drug Authority.
“It is difficult to retain doctors and paramedics in inaccessible and remote areas, particularly hill states, tribal areas and northeastern states,” said Azad. “Within the next three months, the ministry, in consultation with state governments, will identify difficult, most difficult and inaccessible areas, so that we offer better paid location-specific jobs to doctors and paramedics on contractual basis under NRHM.”
Within three months, the ministry also plans a comprehensive medium and long-term policy to train specialist doctors, nurses and paramedics to meet the shortfall. Included in the policy will be setting up of eight AIIMS-like hospitals across the country and upgrading 18 existing regional medical colleges across the states.
“This two-pronged approach will increase healthcare outreach,” said Azad.
The ministry will also initiate the setting up of a National Council for Human Resources in Health as an over-arching regulatory body to oversee all medical education — including the Medical Council of India, Nursning Council, Dental Council, Ayush and Ayurveda.
“I have been told private medical colleges hire professors and staff on inspection days. To get around that, there will be random checks to see how they really function,” said Azad.
The ministry will also formulate a scheme to strengthen state government colleges and increase post-graduate seats in departments with critical shortage such as gynaecology, anaesthesia and paediatrics.
A web-based health management information system will become operational by July 31 to allow districts to report NRHM updates on a monthly, quaterly and annual basis.