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An open and frank letter to the health minister

April 24, 2012 16:41 IST

Dear Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad,
Union Health Minister

You seem determined to go down in history, which ever ministry you are given. I thank the gods that they did not give you defence. I believe you would have started the mother of all wars.

Why do you hate villagers so much? Or do you think we are somehow inferior to the city folk? Why are you implementing the Bachelor of Rural Health Services syllabus? It's a three-year course; even less than a veterinary course. Are we considered lesser than animals?

This idea of forcing United States-returned students to work in rural India is hare-brained, if I may say so. Only the rich can study medicine in the US. They will not be happy in rural India, and the rural folk won't be happy with them either. And if they treat patients half-heartedly, they may even cause more damage. Please do not force doctors to come here. We will manage with what we already have.

Your believe that doctors don't want to work in rural India. But then, if you pay them enough, they just might. Let's say you pay an MBBS doctor Rs 30,000 to work in a city. Why not pay them Rs 60,000 to work in a village? Why, you ask. The cost of living is less in villages, so as a result, they save more money. Believe me, this will work.

There are city hospitals, district hospitals, taluka hospitals, block hospitals and primary health centers in villages. Give them a special allowance to go right to the village primary health centres. For example, Rs10,000 for the PHC, Rs 8,000 for the block hospital, Rs 6,000 for the taluka hospital and Rs 5,000 for the district hospital and nothing for the city hospital.

This is not only for the doctors. The same rule should be used to recruit nurses, paramedics, lab technicians, x-ray mechanics, the administrators – everyone should get more pay and allowances to go work in a village. And if a doctor promises to spend his entire life in one village, well, build him a bungalow there!

That is the way to get doctors to villages. Not by reducing their qualifications. Not by forcing them in India from the US. Not by making MBBS students come here for a year to practice before they move back to the city.

Hope you reply to my letter,

Regards,

A Ganesh Nadar

Panickanadarkudieruppu (A village in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu. We don't have a doctor in our PHC)

A Ganesh Nadar in Panickanadarkudieruppu, Tamil Nadu