Various compensations and incentives have failed to motivate doctors to take up practise in rural areas, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union minister for health and family welfare, said on Wednesday.
Addressing the 13th annual convocation of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), in Bangalore, Azad said, “To increase the availability of doctors in rural areas, we have brought important changes in Medical Council of India regulations. Now there is 50% reservation of seats in post-graduate (PG) diploma courses for medical officers working in rural areas. Also, additional marks for every year of rural service would be provided to candidates appearing for PG medical entrance tests.”
However, these incentives have failed to attract young doctors to rural areas over the past one year, he regretted. “The public sector spending on the health has increased, and our goal is to raise it to 2% to 3% of the gross domestic product. The biggest challenge that we face today is to provide healthcare to the poor and to reach the rural and remote areas of the country,” he said.
Elaborating on the new programmes that were introduced last year at RGUHS, varsity vice-chancellor Dr Ramananda Shetty, said, “The university has introduced an HIV cell, the first of its kind set up by any university in the country. Under this programme, affiliated colleges have established HIV cells to look after the prevention, treatment and education of HIV patients under the guidance of the university.”
Besides, the university has also set up cancer detection centres in the backward areas of North Karnataka to cater to the needs of rural population, he added.
India has witnessed about 32% in cases of HIV among adults from 2002 to 2009 and about 50% drop among pregnant women in the past five years, Azad said and added that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in India had come down from 27.3 lakh to 23.1 lakh during 2002-09. Prevalence of HIV among pregnant women has come down from 0.95% to 0.49% in the past five years, he said.