NEW DELHI: India has finally decided to cut down on brain drain that is crippling its medical sector.
Now, US-bound doctors for higher medical studies will have to sign a bond with the ministry and honour the document by returning home after finishing their courses.
Union health Ghulam Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the US is insisting on a government No Objection Certificate (NOC) for every student enrolling with an American institute from this academic session.
In the last three years, 3,000 doctors went abroad for studies, and did not return.
"If a student does not come back from the US, he won’t be allowed to practice there," Azad said.
Take the example of the premiere All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). A first-of-its-kind study by AIIMS’ department of hospital administration found that it takes Rs 1.7 crore to produce a single MBBS doctor at AIIMS.
The figure includes both the direct (services of the faculty and stipend) and indirect (services of non-teaching personnel and furniture) costs incurred by the hospital over the course’s five-and-a-half-year period.
According to the study, AIIMS spends at least Rs 31.31 lakh on every undergraduate student per year per course as against an annual fee of an MBBS student of Rs 850 per year that includes room and board and tuition fee.
Over 53% of AIIMS students leave India to work abroad. According to the Medical Council of India (MCI), till July 27, 2011, 767 doctors may have left for foreign shores.
These doctors had asked the MCI to issue them Good Standing Certificates (GSC) - a mandatory requirement for doctors seeking work in hospitals abroad. The MCI issued 1,264 GSCs in 2010, 1,386 GSCs in 2009 and 1,002 in 2008.
India has only one doctor for every 1,700 people. In comparison, the doctor-population ratio globally is 1.5:1,000. Somalia has one doctor for 10,000 population. China’s doctor population ratio stands at 1:1063, Korea 1:951, Brazil 1:844, Japan 1:606, Thailand 1:500, the UK 1:469, the US 1:350 and Germany 1:296.
A recent Planning Commission report said India is short of six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and two lakh dental surgeons. Indian doctors, however, form 5% of the medical workforce in developed countries. Almost 60,000 Indian physicians are working in countries like the US, the UK, Canada and Australia alone.
Azad said, “No other country except the US is asking for this NoC. Those who apply to go to the US for studies from 2012 will have to give us a bond saying they would come back after finishing the studies. If they don’t fulfill the bond obligation, we can write to the US to deny the student permission to practice.”
A recent paper in the Lancet said India had eight healthcare workers, 3.8 allopathic doctors and 2.4 nurses per 10,000 population. When compared to other countries, this is about half the WHO benchmark of 25.4 workers per 10,000 people.
According to MCI’s Indian Medical Register that was last updated in April, 2011, the nation supposedly boasts of 840,678 registered medical practitioners. However, the data includes names of doctors who were registered way back in 1933. Chances of these doctors being alive is dim, admits MCI.