THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the medical education authorities are planning to take strict action against the striking medical students and PG residents, most of the medical fraternity is of the view that the government should review its policy and abandon its current adamant position.
While the compulsory bonded service of three years is being implemented as a move to counter the shortage of doctors in the rural sector, the medical students argue that this is detrimental to the future of hundreds of medical students, who want to pursue higher studies.
“I think half the problem can be solved if the government can relax it to a bonded service that should be completed within a lifetime. Six months soon after the MBBS and six months later on would give them time to study for the entrance exam to post-graduate course. Otherwise they would go out of touch with the subjects and will not be able to clear the exams,” said IMA president Rajagopal, who also said a rethink is necessary on the duration of the bond.
With over 3,300 doctors awaiting advice memo from the PSC ranklist of September 2010, medical students and residents allege that the three-year compulsory bonded service is nothing but a move for cheap labour.
“Let the government give these students permanent postings. They are willing to join government service and even do rural service. By not posting them, the students would continue to believe that bonded service is being used as a cover-up from creating permanent posts for doctors,” said a senior professor at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.
The government maintains that it is obligatory on the part of the PG students to serve the state for the money spent on their education. The medical students however argue that they are the only students bound by this clause even while the government spends similar amounts for other professional courses.
As per the figures in the Kerala Budget 2011-2012, if Rs 414 crore is set apart for medical education, Rs 182 crore had been earmarked for agricultural education and Rs 396 crore for technical education.
Besides, they argue that the Rs 414 crore is not just for MBBS, but also PG, superspeciality, nursing, BDS, MDS, MLT, BPharm, DMLT, DRT, X-ray technician and so on.
“In the medical college hospitals, except for a few departments like anatomy and pathology, the rest of the departments earn money for the government. And there is no recurring cost on infrastructure. So I am not sure if that argument is valid,” said Rajagopal.
Apart from medical and nursing students, bond system does not exist in other professional courses. Students from IIT and IIM, engineers or advocates are not asked by the government to work in the government sector.