MBBS interns in Kerala take to national survey to protest poor stipend

This will be the first statewide mobilisation by MBBS interns demanding pay parity.

Published: 02nd June 2023 08:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd June 2023 08:40 AM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purposes only

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thousands of MBBS interns from the state have voiced their discontent over inadequate stipends paid to them, particularly in private medical colleges. According to a recent RTI disclosure, the response to a survey conducted by the National Medical Commission (NMC), the regulatory body for medical education, has been overwhelming, with over 28,000 complaints received from different states. The NMC’s engagement in addressing the issue was prompted by a former MBBS intern in Kozhikode who lodged a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Going by the response, some private colleges in the state pay as little as Rs 1,500 per month as stipend, after deductions. 

In response to concerns, the Medical Students Network (MSN), the student arm of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), spearheaded vigorous campaigns in various medical colleges, striving to maximise student participation. 

“We have the most mobilised network of medical students when compared to other states. In the survey, we tried to give a realistic picture of the stipend issue in the state,” said Vishwanath Kannan, state convenor of MSN. 

“Even in the best stipend paying private medical college a student gets less than Rs 600 a day. It is a human rights violation to offer such poor pay for the amount of work they do,” added Vishwanath. MSN has compiled the stipend paid and work hours of medical colleges across the state. According to them, the work hours in private medical colleges are the same as that of government colleges (GMCs) even though the patient load varies. They are now planning to approach authorities, including health department, Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS), and national and state human rights commissions, demanding parity with the stipend paid in GMCs. 

This will be the first statewide mobilisation by MBBS interns demanding pay parity.  Dr Babu K V, a health activist, said the response to the survey shows how the vast majority of MBBS interns are affected by poor pay under the present regulation. An RTI obtained by Dr Babu shows that the NHRC in its order on March 7 directed the state government, KUHS and NMC to ensure that stipend is paid to MBBS interns/house surgeons of all self-financed medical colleges at par with GMCs since July 2019 and to de-recognise colleges not adhering to the same. It had also directed payment of prescribed risk-benefit allowances and that these payments be made along with interest at RBI’s bank rate.

“The regulations governing internships were framed vaguely, thereby allowing private medical college managements to interpret them to their advantage. The NHRC order can be implemented effectively only after amending the regulation,” said Dr Babu, who has been following the issue since 2017.  

The stipend paid to MBBS interns has varied drastically in private medical colleges ever since the fee fixing authority of the respective colleges got the final say under the Compulsory Rotating Internship Regulations, 2021.

The stipends are the right of the students as part of the clinical training during the one-year house surgency. Most private colleges give a stipend of Rs 5,000 to Rs 13,000. Some of them give a stipend as low as Rs 1,500 after various deductions. GMC students get around Rs 26,000. They have also approached the government to resume annual increments. 


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