Government's Decision May Mean a Compulsory Return for US-bound Doctors

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New Delhi:  The American Dream of Indian doctors may soon hit a snag, with the government deciding that it will not issue them the "No Obligation To Return To India" certificate any more.

The certificate made it possible for those who went to the US to pursue a post-graduation programme to start working there after they got their degree. Now, the health ministry's decision it could mean a compulsory return to India.   

As per US immigration laws, two years of home residency in India is mandatory for J-1 visa holders. The NORI certificate is needed to waive this mandatory 2 year residency and apply for H1B or the work visa.

The government's decision emphasis its previous stand, initiated in 2012, in the hope of tackling the problem of brain drain.

India has a huge paucity of health specialists - nothing less than a 82% shortage in surgeons, physicians, paediatricians. And where the norm is one doctor for 1000 patients, India is 40% short.

But statistics show that between 2010-2014, 3,947 students went to the US to study.

Dr Naresh Trehan of Medanta feels there is nothing wrong in the government's decision. "All countries have this rule. India has been very lax in (implementing) it. Very few of us have come back and I think this should be an obligation that you come and serve your country."

On the flip side, for every 50,000 students who graduate every year with an MBBS degree, less than half have a shot at getting admission to a post-graduate programme in the country.

The reasons why doctors are migrating is that the country is not able to provide them with proper jobs and an opportunity to use their skills, said Dr Amit Sengupta of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.

"That's a huge challenge and unless it is addressed, this is a very superficial way of trying to cap out-migration," he added.


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