To address the issue of dearth of doctors in tribal areas, the Gujarat government is considering to grant 30% of their salary as an additional allowance to doctors who serve in government hospitals in such areas. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel who holds the portfolio of Health & Family Welfare said this in the Assembly during a discussion on budgetary demands of the department.
Patel made the announcement while replying to a demand by tribal MLAs from the Opposition Congress — Mohansinh Rathva from Chhota Udepur constituency and Premsinh Vasava from Nandod constituency of Narmada district.
Rathva, the senior most MLA in Gujarat Assembly, said that earlier the state government used to grant special Tribal Allowance to doctors who serve in government hospitals in tribal areas. However, it was discontinued, Rathva said. "The Tribal Allowance should be revived so that people come to serve in tribal areas," Rathva said.
Rathva’s opinion was reiterated by another senior tribal Congress MLA, Vasava, who said that if the Tribal Allowance is revived, people will surely come to serve in tribal areas.
The Deputy CM said, "Some senior MLAs like Mohansinh Rathva… stated that Tribal Allowance was discontinued by the state government. However, that is not correct." Patel said a new pay structure was introduced by the state government for doctors in government hospitals following the recommendations made by the 5th Pay Commission, which suggested discontinuing of all allowances.
Patel added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked to focus on severely backward districts like Dahod and Narmada by appointing doctors and other professionals, including teachers and engineers. "Recently, in a CM level meeting, in which I was also present along with other senior ministers, it was discussed that there is certainly dearth of doctors. So, we are considering that in tribal areas – specially the priority districts of Narmada and Dahod, the state government will give 30% additional remuneration to those doctors who serve in those areas," the Deputy CM said.
We have considered it, but no decision has been taken yet, Patel added.
During a discussion on the dearth of doctors in the Assembly earlier in the current session, Patel had said, "There are a number of reasons for this dearth. Doctors, obviously, open their own clinics to do private practice. People also have a tendency of going to a private doctor more (than to go to a government doctor). A new trend has started whereby 8-10 doctors get together and start their own corporate hospital where all (medical) services are available… There are many doctors who go abroad… Even if a person from a tribal or rural area becomes a doctor, he/she prefers to settle in urban areas, he added.
The Gujarat government makes medical students sign a bond of Rs 5 lakh to work in rural areas for three years after passing MBBS and completing internship in government medical colleges. The government would recover the amount if the bond is violated. In the past two years, the government has recovered Rs 21.85 crore from doctors for violation of the bond.