Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 1:
After realizing that financial incentive schemes and execution of bonds in government medical colleges have failed to retain doctors in backward districts, the Odisha government is now contemplating a 100% financial incentive to the doctors aiming to address chronic shortage of doctors in these regions of the state.
“We are planning to provide doctors posted in the backward areas of the state 100% financial incentives over and above their normal salary. The proposal is in the pipeline and we hope that the lucrative offer will help us to retain them in the KBK and other backward areas,” said sources in the Health and Family Wefare Department.
During the past one decade, the state government has tried several tricks to retain doctors in government-run health institutions in backward areas of KBK districts, but to no avail. During their posting in KBK districts, doctors usually opt for higher studies, stay on prolonged leave and remain absent most of the time instead of serving the poor people in these regions.
Forget other doctors, even doctors who are natives of the KBK region are not keen to serve in the area and want postings in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar instead.
Since doctors are reluctant to serve in the KBK districts despite limited incentives offered to them by the government, the department hopes that the 100% incentive will help address the absentee of doctors, sources added.
Besides, the government is contemplating a transfer policy under which doctors posted in KBK region will be mandatorily transferred out of KBK region after completion of three years and posted in urban or semi-urban areas after completion of three years.
It is to be noted that the state government had forced medical students to sign bonds for working for a minimum of three years in KBK districts on passing out from government medical colleges. The government had even decided to impose penalty ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 15 lakh on medical professionals who forego the minimum of one year’s service in government health institutions, especially in KBK region.
Subsequently, it announced 30% financial incentives for doctors working in the backward regions. Doctors working at Koraput, Malkangiri, Nawarangpur, Rayagada, Bolangir, Subarnapur, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Boudh, Kandhamal and Gajapati are entitled to get financial benefits over and above their salary.
Earlier, doctors posted in district headquarter and sub divisional hospitals were being granted incentive of Rs.4,000 per month over and above their salary. From last year, the incentive has been doubled for doctors working in peripheral and dispensaries in 11 districts.
Sources said of the sanctioned strength of 4, 805 doctors in these districts, about 1,000 posts have remained vacant for a long time while about 950 doctors were on leave. At present, there is one hospital for 14,251 persons and a doctor per 9,504 persons in the state.
Last month, the government had announced a raise in the retirement age limit for physicians working in government hospitals to 62 years to address the acute shortage in the hospitals.