Any doctor travelling to the U.S. for higher medical studies from this year onward will have to sign a bond with the Government promising to return to India after completing his/her studies.

This has been done to prevent doctors from leaving the country on the pretext of higher studies and eventually settling down there.

“Any student travelling for further medical education to the U.S. will have to give us a bond that he will return after completing the studies. In the last three years, 3,000 doctors went abroad for studies and didn't return. If a student doesn't return from the U.S., he won't be allowed to practise there,” Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Monday.

From this year onwards, the United States is insisting on a government NOC from every student enrolling with an American institute. “No other country is asking for this NOC,” the Minister said. “If they don't fulfil the bond obligation, we can write to the U.S. to deny the student permission to practise.”

On the proposed three-year Bachelor of Rural Health Care course, which seeks to create a separate cadre of public health professionals to serve in rural areas, Mr. Azad hoped that the Medical Council of India (MCI) would approve the course. “Doctors' organisations are opposing the course. I have no hesitation in saying that they have a vested interest to increase their practice.”

“The curriculum is also ready. States are free to implement the course, as Assam is doing, but we want the MCI's recognition to provide uniform standards for the course across India. We hope the MCI will move fast,” he said.

Mr. Azad also favoured increasing the duration of the MBBS course from the existing 5.5 years to 6.5 years. The Medical Council of India was working on the proposal. “I don't mind increasing the duration of MBBS to 6.5 years. In the U.S., students have to go for six years of additional study to be able to prescribe medicines and practise,” he said.

The proposed one-year increase in MBBS duration is being contemplated to set aside an additional year for mandatory rural service. The proposal is to award the MBBS degree only after the completion of 5.5 years of regular MBBS course and one year of rural posting, which would be linked to National Rural Health Mission..

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