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Medicos reluctant to go to rural areas despite financial lure

THE latest government attempt to recruit specialist medicos in the rural areas seem to have fallen through as doctors, despite the promise of a fat pay, prefer district hospitals for taluks. 

The health department had advertised for specialists to work in the rural areas on a contract basis in two categories – MCH or Maternal and Child Health (obstetricians, paediatricians and anaesthetists) and general specialists (physicians, orpthopaedists, ophthalmologists, skin, etc).

While the monthly remuneration offered to specialists in 19 districts is Rs 50,000, the Health Department offers Rs 70,000 a month to doctors who are willing to work in Bagalkot, Bellary, Bidar, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Kodagu, Koppal, Raichur and Uttara Kannada districts. 

The requirement in these districts is 117 MCH specialists and 267 general specialists.

Poor response

Despite putting out the ad two months ago, District Health Officers say that the response has been far from encouraging. Though they had received applications from the local specialists, they say doctors are averse to working in taluk hospitals. 

A health officer in Bijapur said he had received six applications from various specialists, but only two gynaecologist posts were filled. “I re­ce­ive call for one specialist every day. However, no one wants to work in taluk hospitals. Many are keen on working in district hospitals,” he said. Ironically, Bijapur district has two medical colleges, with each department having not less than 10 specialists, despite the crunch.

In Kodagu, where the need is one MCH specialist and 41 general specialists, the district health office has received only five to six applications. 

Advertisement for a paediatrician, put up in the district hospital, had virtually no response, while a department doctor from Bangalore who was transferred to the district went on a four month leave to show his displeasure, said the district surgeon.

Worst hit

Dr Shivanna Reddy, district health officer (DHO), Uttara Kannada, felt that the response to the call for specialist doctors was poor in the district where the need was for 22 MCH doctors and 61 general specialists – the highest among the nine districts.

“We received 10 applications and we issued orders for eight people. Five doctors – four MCH and one orthopaedic doctor – have already joined duty. The others – two MCH and one orthopaedic doctor – will join shortly,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Bangalore Urban, which needs one MCH doctor and four general specialists in Anekal and Yelahanka, has received good response. 
DO Dr M Thimmappa pointed to the higher availability of specialists for the good response. 

S Selvakumar, director, National Rural Health Mission, said initially the monthly pay package for all contract specialists was fixed at Rs 50,­0­00. But with poor response from doctors, different packages were planned, he said. Although the scheme was launched three years ago, only 63 specialists have accepted offers till now, Selvakumar said.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 15th July, 2011; Page 1 anchor)

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