Sops for docs on tough turf

Enhanced pay for ‘difficult’ postings
Guwahati, Feb 3 : Dispur today announced monetary incentives to motivate doctors to serve people in “difficult” areas of the state that are geographically isolated and afflicted by militancy, floods and epidemics.
Health and family welfare minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, told newspersons that the doctors, who would be posted in six notified “difficult” areas, would receive higher pay than their counterparts serving in other parts of the state. The areas are Dhakuakhana, Jonai, Mancachar, Sadiya and Majuli subdivisions, apart from Karbi Anglong and NC Hills districts.
Sarma said an additional Rs 7,000 would be paid to a sub-divisional medical officer, Rs 5,000 to senior medical and health officers, Rs 4,000 to medical and health officer and Rs 3,000 to medical officer (ayurvedic) for their services in these “difficult” areas.
“Apart from the enhanced pay package, a specialist doctor in any of the categories will receive additional amount of Rs 6,000 for serving in the “difficult” areas. For example, if the sub-divisional medical officer is a specialist, he or she will receive a gross additional amount of Rs 13,000 (Rs 7,000 + Rs 6,000),” he said.
Sarma said the doctors appointed directly under the National Rural Health Mission would get an additional Rs 8,000 for serving in “difficult” areas.
The minister said many doctors refuse to go to these areas due to their remoteness, difficult terrain, apart from being prone to militancy, floods and epidemics.
While floods and erosion afflict Majuli, Dhakuakhana, Jonai and Mancachar subdivisions, law and order problems due to insurgency turn off doctors from shifting base to Karbi Anglong, NC Hills and Sadiya.
Sarma said the government had made it mandatory for doctors who want to pursue post-graduation to serve at least one year in the rural areas before going in for higher studies. He said the students who fail to meet the criteria would not be allowed to appear for the post-graduate entrance examination.
The new rule will come into force from the academic session of 2010-11. During their rural posting, the doctors will get attractive pay packages,” the minister said.
The government move has generated mixed reactions among the medical fraternity.
G.K. Das, additional director in the directorate of health services, welcomed the government’s initiative and said it would go a long way in motivating doctors to serve in the “difficult” areas.
“I started my career in Karbi Anglong district and served there for 20 years. The initiatives taken by the present government deserve praise,” Das said.
“Monetary incentives alone are not enough. The doctors must be assured of security and better infrastructure. If we do not have infrastructure, how can you expect us to serve better?” a young doctor asked.