HYDERABAD: A picture of intense preparations and droopy eyes, the group of 20-odd students huddled around their laptops in the library room of the Osmania Medical College are a sign of casual disregard by the city’s MBBS fraternity to the one-day old announcement of the Union Health Ministry on “compulsory servitude” after higher studies abroad.
The announcement made by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad outlines new plans to make mandatory the return of all MBBS students doing their postgraduate studies in the USA to the country after completion of their studies.
Medical students in the city though seemed least perturbed by the same.
Those, who did take offence on the issue, showed a curious mix of confusion and frustration at the constant jab by media and society to their intention to serve.
“Being a doctor is not a social service. We expect to get a suitable remuneration for our services. If such clauses are imposed on medical students, isn’t it double standards when engineers and scientists too decide to settle abroad rather than use their skill for the country?” questioned Nitish, a final-year student at OMC.
“Every year around 15 of the total 200-strong batch at this college opts to go abroad for higher studies.
That means 185 students opt to study and work in India itself. Even at the national level, the Health Minister has mentioned that 3000 doctors chose to settle abroad after studies in the last three years.
So what about the remaining 1 lakh who chose to settle in the country? Can’t the ministry utilise them efficiently to handle the patient-doctor ratio better, rather than impose restrictions on us?,” grumbled Prasanna, his classmate.
And even as more students surrounding the duo nodded their heads in concurrence, further support came in the form of fellow students of traditional medicine courses who felt that MBBS students were being constantly harassed by the media and society for not doing enough for the marginalised.
“Even we might go abroad to work despite our course being in Ayurveda.
The pay is good abroad, and that is why it is not right to restrict MBBS students when every other person tries his luck abroad,” felt Varaprasad, a student of Ayurveda here.
Vipin, a fourth-year US postgraduate aspirant, added that providing facilities for education was the government’s duty and it was not right to ask for services in return, since facilities in rural conditions were limited, which was why many young doctors shunned the same.
The students though felt that since definite terms or conditions of the clause were yet to be revealed it was too early to contemplate protesting against the same.
city docs speak up Doctors in the city remained a picture of cautiousness while addressing the issue.
“Even I have studied abroad, but I returned to serve my country.
At the end of the day, it’s an individual’s choice, though I feel the government move is a must needed one since the entire profession has become very commercial today,” opined Dr Ravindranath Tagore, COO, Olive Hospitals. Arguing that a medical college in the city spent more than Rs 30 lakh on a student (tuition fees alone in a government medical college is Rs 10,000 annually, while in a private college it is a minimum of `3 lakh), he maintained that it was necessary for the government to try to retain its resources.
“It’s not like doctors in India earn little. They earn enough while practising as much as they do while doing their post-graduation,” he pointed out. Pay factor apart, Dr GS Rao, Managing Director, Yashoda Group of Hospitals, felt that such laws would do good to no one.
“Those who want to go abroad will continue to do so. They’ll just pay an amount as surety for the bond and settle abroad,” he said.
Asking how the government could act like China in controlling one’s basic rights to free movement, he said, “facilities in rural areas are not challenging enough for a modern doctor. Instead, more medical colleges should be opened to help meet the supplydemand gap. The number of those who go abroad is very less. The remaining will serve our country itself.” He further opined, “Let the government train students to be general practitioners or find new means to streamline the entire machinery. But nobody can be forced into bonded labour just because they were offered facilities by the state machinery. That is against our constitutional rights.”