10-year rural posting mandatory for J&K docs

Step taken to provide health service to people in remote areas

‘Serving a rural posting’ has been made compulsory for government doctors in Jammu and Kashmir to better address the problems of the people in far-flung areas.

“I have made a minimum posting of 10 years in rural areas compulsory for every doctor or else they will not get service benefits at the time of retirement,” health minister Sham Lal Sharma said.

His department would focus on boosting rural healthcare in the state “so as to better serve the people of far-flung areas”. He noted that this was necessary to provide health services to poor people living in remote and mountainous areas and this step would decrease referral cases, thereby easing the burden on city hospitals.

The health minister said his department was also making a list of those doctors who have not served in rural areas so far. “I have issued strict instructions to post such doctors in rural areas as soon as possible.”

Sharma said his department is mulling monetary benefits for doctors serving in remote and rural areas.

Jammu and Kashmir has more than 3,400 health institutions, over 5,800 doctors and 11,840 beds, 22 district hospitals, 85 sub-district hospitals or community health centres, 375 primary health centres, 238 allopathic dispensaries and 2,293 sub-centres.

“We have doctors as per the sanctioned strength, but we still need more as there is a gap of about 700 who are in medical education or are pursuing higher education. We have also asked for 500 doctors in leave reserve,” the minister said.

The health sector has been enormously affected by militancy that erupted in 1990.

Violence forced many doctors out of the state while others were reluctant to work in rural areas, where the danger of militants striking was much higher.

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