THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Adding to the ire of the medical students who are already in protest mode against the compulsory bonded service in the health sector, the Department of Health has decided to discontinue with the stipend during maternity leave period. The medical students are gearing up to launch an agitation against this and the compulsory bond next week.
The Government Order issued in this regard, says that the women residents are eligible for stipend only during the extension period of 120 days of the course and not during the maternity period.
“Women resident students can take maternity leave all right. But the Finance Department has directed that they are eligible for stipend only during the course period,” said Director of Medical Education Dr V Geetha.
Until now, the women residents were eligible for stipend for a period of 120 days during the maternity leave and 120 days of the extended period of the course. “The Director of Medical Education had reported that in the case of senior residents (students who have completed Post Graduation but are under bonded obligation) they are eligible for payment only during the extension period of their maternity period. This is because they are posted temporarily for a period of 12 months and their remuneration is limited only to a period of 12 months,” says the Government Order.
The order clearly says that junior residents including, PG degree/ diploma students in the Government Medical Colleges are eligible for stipend during their course period only.
“We think this is extremely unfortunate and unfair to deny the women residents the maternity benefits that are due to them. Even a contract employee is allowed to have paid maternity leave and benefits,” said Nibin Nahaz, a PG student at the Medical College here.
“The medical education itself is long when you take into account the years you need to spend on post-graduation, diploma, super-speciality and so on. A woman student possibly cannot wait until all her studies are over to get pregnant. It is sad that the government is not giving support to us when it is needed the most,” he said.
However, the Government Order issued at the fag end of last year says that the government has examined the case in detail and has ordered that junior residents are eligible for stipend only to the duration of the course and that the senior residents are eligible for stipend during the period of bonded obligation.