New Delhi: Even as India continues to make rapid stride for establishing its image as global destination for good and affordable medical services, the health sector seems to have hamstrung by brain drain of qualified doctors, despite the government’s assurance to curb the exodus. In the last year about 1000 doctors have gone foreign shores for pursuing study and greener pasture, most of them hailing from premier health care centers like AIIMS. However, the number of seats in medical colleges across the country has been cranked up by 2395, in a clear indication of falling short on the promise to ease doctor-patient ratio.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is of the view that the government has no provision to keep records of the doctors going abroad. He, however, said that the Medical Council of India (MCI) had released 1368 Good Standing Certificates in 2011, a mandatory document for doctors going foreign countries for jobs or pursuing higher degrees. According to source, the number of doctors going abroad is larger than the certificates issued. As many as 1504 doctors are said to have left the country last year. In the current year till 16 August, 709 Good Standing Certificates have been issued. In 2010 the MCI had doled out 1,264 certificates.

This situation raises concerns as there is only one doctor for every two thousand people while doctor-population ration should be 1:1000. The MCI this year has increased the numbers of MBBS seats in medical colleges by only 2,395. For the states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar it is double whammy as they are already having less number of medical colleges and the MCI is reducing the seats, pushing the health care services to nadir.

According to former health secretary P Hota, brain drain is not alien as other professions too have been stung by it, but as long as the health sector is concerned the repercussion of the doctors’ emigration has taken enormity as lack of medicos may spiral up demises of patients. “The doctors leaving our country”, he said, “are highly qualified and instead of curbing brain drain there should be better mechanism to accommodate them.”

However, the Health Minister chipped in with his firm stance on bettering facilities that pay and allowances of doctors have been considerably increased and the retirement age of faculty of medical institution has been increased to 65.

Mukesh Kejariwal/JPN

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