Bhubaneswar, July 3: The state government today made it compulsory for all fresh MBBS graduates coming out of state-run medical colleges to serve in backward areas at least for three years.
In the same breath, the government has also urged blue-chip public sector undertaking National Alumina Company Limited (Nalco) to set up a medical college and hospital in the state.
To ensure that MBBS graduates serve in the state’s backward areas for a minimum of three years, the government would make medical students sign a written pledge. Students, who are set to join the three state-funded medical colleges in the coming session would be required to sign the bond at the time of admission. The move also covers those studying postgraduation and super-speciality courses in medicine in the state.
“If they fail to serve in the backward areas of the state after completing MBBS, they will have to pay Rs 5 lakh to the government,” said health secretary Pradipta Mohapatra. In the case of postgraduate (PG) students, the amount would be Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh for those opting to pursue super-speciality courses.
Elsewhere in the country, the Assam government had in 2009 made rural posting mandatory for local MBBS graduates. The fresh graduates have to serve a one-year stint in the villages before they can take their postgraduation test.
This year, the Tarun Gogoi government has extended the rule to cover those from other states, who come to study MBBS in Assam.
Taking its healthcare initiative a step forward, the state government today asked Nalco authorities to prepare by July 5 a “concrete proposal” for setting up its medical college and hospital in the state. On July 5, Nalco officials are expected to attend a review meeting to be presided over by health minister Prasanna Acharya.
“We hope that they will come up with a proposal,” said a senior official.
In a letter to the chairman-cum-managing director of Nalco, B.L. Bagra, the state health secretary has said that the central entity should set up the medical college and hospital as a part of its corporate social responsibility activities.
The letter reminded the company how two other public sector majors — Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) — have evinced interest to set up medical colleges in the state.
While MCL has agreed to set up a medical college and hospital at Talcher, the NTPC is going ahead with its plans to establish one in Sundergarh.
The state government has suggested to the Nalco authorities to set up its medical college in the tribal dominated Koraput district as it is the core area for Nalco’s mining activities.
Responding to the plea, Bagra said: “We will certainly examine the proposal. We are doing a lot of CSR activities in the Koraput region. We will see whether the proposal fits into our scheme.”
Bagra , however, maintained that all formalities had to be completed before taking a decision on the matter. “Our board of directors is an autonomous body. They will take a final call on this issue.”
Sources in the Nalco, however, maintained that since a medical college and hospital involved nearly Rs 400 crore, such a proposal had to be sent to the board of directors for approval.
On the other hand, a state government official said: “If they conceded to our request, we will certainly provide them land and other infrastructure at minimal cost. Nalco can also use the Koraput district hospital as a referral centre for the time being.”
At a time when the government is wooing Nalco, work is going on in full-swing on the Rs 500-crore medical college and hospital project being promoted by MCL at Talcher.
Sources said the company was setting up a super-speciality hospital by converting its existing 200-bed facility at Talcher into a 450-bed bed hospital. Besides these hospitals, the Netaji Subhash Chandra All India Institute of Medical Sciences is coming up at Sijua, on the outskirts of the city.
In a related development, the Medical Council of India has approved 45 MBBS seats each for the three state government run institutes — SCB Medical College in Cuttack, MKCG Medical College in Berhampur and VSS Medical College in Burla. The three colleges will have 150 seats each.