A day after students of Delhi’s top medical colleges staged a protest in front of the Nirman Bhawan at Connaught Place, the Health Ministry on Thursday said that there was no such proposal to extend the duration of MBBS courses from existing 5.5 years to 7.5 years. Setting at rest all the speculations, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that rural posting would not be mandatory for the students appearing in PG examinations for the year 2015-2016.
The decision comes after over 2,000 students of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Maulana Azad Medical College, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, who were later joined by around 1,000 Resident Doctors Association (RDA) members and other medicos from different parts of the country, called for a strike on Wednesday.
On Thursday evening, the representatives of agitating medicine students met Azad. In the meeting, which lasted for around a half an hour, the representatives submitted a memorandum against the proposal to extend the duration of MBBS course and compulsory one-year rural posting prior to post-graduate programmes. They also demanded proper infrastructure and security at primary health centres (PHCs).
In a release issued by the ministry after the meeting, Azad stated that taking care of the students’ demands, the concerned officials had been directed to keep the proposal in abeyance and a letter in this regard had been issued to the Medical Council of India.
“He (Azad) listened to all their concerns patiently and allayed their (students’) fears regarding Medical Council of India notification in respect of one-year mandatory rural posting of PHC after completion of MBBS, before they seek admission to PG course,” said the release.
Expressing satisfaction and rejoicing over the ministry’s decision, the medicos called off the strike late on Thursday evening. “Finally, our efforts have paid off. We were not against rural posting at PHCs. We just wanted it to be incorporated within the PG curriculum,” said Kaustubh Ahuja, a Maulana Azad Medical College student.
The police had taken to lathicharge and usage of water cannons on Wednesday evening in order to disperse the agitating students, which resulted in the injury of several of them, after which the medicos called for the strike.
(The article first appeared on News 18.)