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Grassroots doctors

Medics working in rural India talk about challenges as the Centre mulls a one-year rural posting for MBBS students, reports Gauri Kohli.

education Updated: Feb 23, 2012 16:34 IST
Gauri Kohli
Gauri Kohli
Hindustan Times

For the 50,000-odd people in and around Rajasthan’s Sallopat village, Bhagat Singh Tamboliya is like god. Being the only medical officer at the primary health centre of the village, Tamboliya is proud of the fact that he is able to provide quality healthcare to one of the remotest areas of the state, about 160 km from Udaipur. “I was working as a junior resident at Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital when the thought of serving my village crossed my mind. Six months after my stint there, I decided to join a village medical facility. I could have easily got a job in any leading hospital in Delhi but I wanted to work in a rural setting. I spent my childhood in this village and dreamt of becoming a doctor. Now that my dream is realised, I want to continue serving the people who don’t have access to basic medical facilities,” he says.

The 26-year-old now aims to qualify the postgraduate exam of the Rajasthan Public Services Commission and work at a district hospital. He welcomes the Central government’s recent proposal to make a one-year rural posting compulsory for all MBBS students, saying it will encourage young medical students to serve the rural population, which is often deprived of easy availability of medical resources.

Shiv Singh and his wife Manisha, both 32, also support the idea of a rural posting during the MBBS programme. A general physician at Rajasthan’s Ranthambore Sevika Hospital for the last two years, Singh works with a team of doctors who cater to patients from around 15 villages near the Dang and Chambal regions on the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh border. The decision to work in a village setting was an easy one for Singh and his wife, who is a gynaecologist at the same hospital. “There are fewer specialists in villages and there’s no dearth of opportunities in private hospitals. I was offered other jobs, almost put in charge of an ICU at a multispecialty hospital in Udaipur, but I preferred my current job. For us, the biggest incentive is the opportunity to cure the poorest of poor,” says Singh, who is an MD (medicine) from the Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University.

Singh says working in rural areas gives him satisfaction as well the scope for expanding the availability of medical facilities in such regions. “I, along with my wife, work consistently on other initiatives as well - organising camps, workshops and awareness programmes on infertility, curbing mortality rate and pre- and post-natal care for villages Bhoori Pahari, Khidarpur, Shyampura and Sapotra. We are also constantly working on upgrading the services in our hospital and will continue to work here,” he adds.

Another young doctor, Vijayalaxmi Laishram, who is working as a medical officer at the Bishnupur village in Manipur, is not overwhelmed by the challenges she faces daily.
“Communication with patients and their families is a bit of a task sometimes as many of them are not literate or speak different dialects. Sometimes, emergency cases – especially those requiring surgeries, blood transfusions and surgical interventions – cannot be managed properly in a rural setting and have to be referred to a hospital in the city. But this is what we are meant to do and have been trained for. We have done short internships in rural areas during our MBBS but this experience allows me to grow personally and professionally,” says Laishram.

The rural pulse

I want to continue serving the people who don’t have access to basic medical facilities Bhagat Singh Tamboliya Works in Rajasthan’s Sallopat village

The experience of treating villagers allows me to grow personally and professionally Vijayalaxmi Laishram Works in Manipur’s Bishnupur village

The biggest incentive for us is the opportunity to cure the poorest of poor who need medical aid Shiv Singh Works in villages near Ranthambore

First Published: Feb 22, 2012 10:30 IST