It's a tragedy only 24% doctors took up rural stint: BOMBAY HIGH COURT
A division bench of Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud and Justice Suresh Gupte directed the government to ensure that no rural health post remained vacant this year.
Justice Chandrachud said, "Instead of giving back to society by spending one year in a rural health centre, here the idea is to find a way out (of serving the bond period)." He added, "The younger generation should place an emphasis on public service."
The court was informed that most of the remaining 76% of doctors had opted to pay the bond money and the state had as of March 2013 collected over Rs 40 crore. To avoid the rural stint, MBBS doctors have to pay bond money of Rs 10 lakh and PG doctors have to pay Rs 50 lakh.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Purnima Upadhyay on the large number of cases of malnourishment and infant mortality in tribal regions in Maharashtra, a problem compounded by the lack of doctors willing to serve in these areas. The state's affidavit said that of the 64 lakh children in the state, around 20% suffered from malnourishment. The court directed the state to "enforce discipline''.
The court was informed that in 2012, of the 6,930 candidates available to serve the bond, only 1,730 presented themselves before the allotment panel for being deputed to 4,878 posts in rural areas. Of these, only 1,473 candidates were allotted posts, which meant that around 3,405 posts remained vacant.
"The state spends large sums of money towards the medical education of students who pursue undergraduate, post graduate and super specialty courses. It is no excuse that the candidates did not present themselves (for allotment to a rural health centre)," said the judges.
"Were the bonds executed? On the one hand, the state faces lack of adequate medical services and, on the other hand, posts are lying vacant."
The court has directed the state medical education department and the public health department to coordinate and ensure that all the posts are filled this year during the allotment process in August 2013. "We expect that no medical post should be left vacant this year," said the judges and asked the state to file a compliance report by August 30, 2013. The court also clarified that doctors who have completed their postgraduate diplomas can be posted at rural health centres and in compelling circumstances to primary health centres.
The HC also appointed a committee headed by the chief secretary to monitor implementation of schemes to tackle malnourishment in the 11 sensitive tribal projects.
Total no of doctors who passed out in 2012 and eligible for posting in rural areas - 6,930.
No of posts doctors who offered to serve bond in rural areas - 1,730.
No of posts available in rural areas in 2012 - 4,878.
No of doctors deputed to rural health posts - 1,473.
No of posts vacant - 3,405.
Bond money collected by government form doctors who opted not to serve bond - Rs 40 crores (as of March 2013).