Friday, August 9, 2013

Equalise UG and PG medical seats

MUMBAI: Over 3000 medical students with the support of Indian Medical Association and Delhi Medical Association gathered at JantarMantar in New Delhi on Thursday. The movement by medical students called 'Save the Doctor' is a submission to the Union health ministry to equalize Under Graduation (UG) and Post Graduation (PG) medical seats and to include rural posting to be part of internship and postgraduate training. Nearly two to three lakh medical students are expected to support this movement across India.

Pursuing a Post Graduation in any stream of medicine is essential for a doctor to become a specialist such as Gynecologist, Neurologist, Surgeon, Radiologist etc. Today, India lacks specialist doctors due to less number of clinical PG seats in medical institutions. Though India has the largest number of medical institutions, the disparity in the number of seats allotted for PG and UG students along with the mandatory rural posting are affecting young doctors and they end up spending 13 years merely studying. This also means that the future of our healthcare system is at huge risk, if things continue to remain the way it is. As senior specialist doctors/ surgeons retire in the future, a dearth of specialist doctors and surgeons looms large in the country.

Dr. Navneet Motreja, Coordinator, Campaign - 'Save the Doctor', said, "If the situation does not change, we are not far from desperate measures like importing surgeons from other countries. Recently, due to a public pressure the Brazilian PM agreed to import 6,000 specialist doctors from Cuba."

There are 45,600 UG seats which is likely to reach 50,000 shortly due to the progressive steps taken by the MCI. Whereas, there are only 12,000 PG seats which most of the doctors prefer to choose. In comparison, in a developed country such as USA, there are 19,000 UG seats and 32,000 PG and fellowship seats. With a pass rate of 80% to 90%, nearly 40,000 doctors graduate every year and compete for 12,000 seats with their batch mates and over a lakh seniors. In the last PG entrance exam under NEET, over 110,000 doctors appeared for the test to claim one of the 12,000 seats. Adding to this, the one year compulsory rural posting has worsened the situation.

Dr. Narendra Saini, Secretary General, IMA, said, "Indian Medical Association supports rural posting. But, in the present situation making it compulsory is not feasible because there is no structured posting in rural areas. Every PG student must do six months of rural posting as part of their course/ internship." He also added, "Every medical officer during their tenure is entitled for atleast 4-5 promotions. For every promotion, one year rural posting can be made mandatory."

To validate this, the World Health Statistics has pointed out that India has 0.9 beds for 1000 population, which is way below the global average beds of 2.9 beds.

A grave example of the state of Indian healthcare is that lakhs of young pregnant women who die during delivery is a testimony to show how lack of PG seats is taking away precious lives. There are 28 million babies born every year in India, which means at least 28 million deliveries need to be handled annually. To perform this number the country requires that many gynecologists, unfortunately we have only 40,000 practicing gynecologists and most of them are practicing mainly in cities. Our government is spending lakhs of rupees to reduce Maternity Mortality Rate without great success. What people and policy makers fail to realize is that it's not due to the lack of money that young pregnant women are dying, but because the country does not have enough qualified gynecologists and neonatologists to take care of the mother and baby

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