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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Medical students gather in Mumbai pleading health ministry to equalize UG and PG seats

Medical students gather in Mumbai pleading health ministry to equalize UG and PG seats
MUMBAI: Over 300 medical students gathered at Indian Medical Association House (IMA) last week to once again plead to the Union Health Ministry to equalize Under Graduation (UG) and Post Graduation (PG) medical seats. The movement by the medical students called 'Save the Doctor' also took place in other cities like Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Mysore, Guwahati and Hisar, on the same day. Dressed in their regular lab coats along with a black ribbon, the students made their hand impression on a large piece of canvas as a symbolic gesture to articulate the lack of specialist doctors in the country. The students also wrote their message "Save the Doctors" on the floor lit each alphabet was lit with candles.

Commenting about the movement, Dr. Naresh Trehan, CMD, Medanta said "I am quite concerned about the present state of affairs for the medical students in our country. We are all aware that the number of students graduating and the number of PG seats available are not equal. Students are struggling to get a PG seat today. We should take measures to change the system as soon as possible, as we need more specialists in the country." He also added, "If one notices, many a times, getting an appointment from a specialist, be it a gynecologist, orthopedic, etc is increasingly becoming an issue. The reason is because to serve the healthcare needs of a billion plus people, the number of specialists available is simple not enough. We have written to the ministry and authorities and we have received favorable response and we are hopeful there will soon be solutions."

The top ten causes of death in India include diseases of the heart, diarrheal disease, chronic respiratory diseases and strokes, to name a few. Nine out of the ten require specialist doctors to treat them. Today, India lacks specialist doctors due to inadequate number of PG seats in medical institutions. Though the country has the largest number of medical institutions, the disparity in the number of seats allotted for PG and UG students along with the mandatory rural posting are affecting young doctors, as they end up spending 13 years merely studying. This also means that the future of our healthcare system is at a huge risk if the current scenario continues. As senior specialist doctors/ surgeons retire in the future, there will be a dearth of specialist doctors and surgeons in India. Pursuing a Post Graduation in any stream of medicine is essential for a doctor to become a specialist such as Gynecologist, Neurologist, Surgeon, Radiologist etc.

Dr. Narendra Saini, Secretary General, IMA, said, "The young doctors of India are losing their productive years in studying to get a PG seat. There is a dearth of specialists in the country and limited PG seats will gravely affect the number of specialist doctors, available in the coming years. He further added, "'Save the Doctor' movement is a step to resolve the problem and we need the support of the nation."

There are 47,600 UG seats which is likely to reach 50,000 shortly due to the progressive steps taken by the MCI. Whereas, there are only 12,000 PG seats in clinical disciplines! In comparison, in a developed country such as the USA, there are 19,000 UG seats and 32,000 PG and fellowship seats. With a pass rate of 80% to 90%, nearly 40,000 doctors graduate every year and compete for the 12,000 clinical seats with their batch mates and over a lakh seniors. In the last PG entrance exam under NEET, over 90,000 doctors appeared for the test to claim one of the 12,000 seats. Adding to this, the one year compulsory rural posting as a pre-requisite to apply for PG course has worsened the situation.

Central Zone Executive of 'Save the Doctor' movement, Dr. Suranjana Basak, said, "The gathering we had today across India is just our humble appeal to make our voice heard. We want the leaders to take action and save the future."

Lakhs of young pregnant women who die during delivery is a testimony to show how lack of PG seats is taking away precious lives due to dearth in gynecologists. There are 28 million babies born every year in India, which means at least 28 million deliveries need to be handled annually. ""To perform this number the country requires that many gynecologists. Unfortunately we have only 40,000 practicing gynecologists and most of them are practicing mainly in cities. Our government is spending lakhs of rupees to reduce Maternity Mortality Rate without great success. What people and policy makers fail to realize is that it's not due to lack of money that young pregnant women are dying, but because the country does not have enough qualified gynecologists and pediatricians to take care of the mother and baby"", voiced Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Treasurer, AHPI.

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