Proposal to penalise those studying in government colleges who opt out of government service

The budgetary outlay for Health and Family Welfare for 2012-2013 nearly doubled, compared to the previous budget, with Rs. 4,260 crore being allotted to the sector. This is four per cent of the total budgetary outlay, as against 2.8 per cent last year.

However, the most significant announcement was the decision to enact a legislation to make one year of rural service compulsory for all MBBS undergraduates and postgraduates in the State. The law will be framed in a manner that makes this rural service mandatory to get a permanent registration as a practising doctor with the Karnataka Medical Council. The government also proposes to impose penalties (though the details of this is yet to be spelt out) on students studying in government colleges and under government quota in private colleges, who opt not to serve the government after successful completion of the course.

This will be a first such law in the country, both in terms of mandatory rural service and in holding those studying under government subsidies accountable, a senior doctor working in a government hospital told The Hindu.

Given the acute doctor shortage that the public health sector faces, particularly in rural areas, doctors have welcomed this move as one that will encourage young graduates to serve the poor and create a culture of public service.

Toll-free helpline

Other significant announcements included a toll-free health information helpline, which will provide medical advice or health-related information to people of the State. Considering the infant mortality rate as a “sensitive indicator”, the government has decided to encourage accurate reporting by providing Rs. 500 per case to ASHA workers. The government has also decided to bear the travel costs of people living with HIV who avail free medical services.