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Health Min finds brain drain cure

Wednesday, 27 March 2013 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi



Doctors going to the US for studies and then planning to settle down there will not find it easy to do so now. As per new guidelines recently finalised by the Centre, the Union Health Ministry will no longer issue them a ‘No Obligation to Return to India’ (NORI) certificate that allows them to settle in the US.

The move aims to check brain drain in the medical profession in the country, said a senior Health Ministry official.

He said it is ironic that while the health system in India is crippled due to the acute shortage of medical specialists, the Ministry has been giving doctors permission to settle abroad by issuing NORI certificates.

“However, now, no more NORI certificates,” the official added. As per US rules, the NORI certificate is mandatory for Indian doctors who have completed up to nine years of medical education and plan to settle in America.

In 2010, the Government had issued 28 NORI certificates, 21 in 2011 and not a single one in 2012. “The guidelines aim to ensure that they come back to India and serve the country,” the official said.

Approved by the Law Ministry, these stricter guidelines will also apply to students who have gone to the US from this year. They will be asked to sign a surety bond, with a financial penalty of `5 lakh to be paid, in case they fail to honour their promise to return to India after completing their course.

“If they don’t fulfill the bond obligation signed at the time of receiving the certificate of ‘Statement Of Need’ (SON), stating that the student is being allowed to go and study medicine in the US because he is required to return and serve India, we can write to the US to deny the student the permission to practice,” the official said.

SON is issued for the first time to medical students seeking to study in the US and after five or seven years they can again apply for the Exceptional Need certificate which enables them to enroll with an American institute for further study for the next two years.

Noting that in the last three years, 3,000 medical students have gone abroad and stayed there, resulting in an adverse impact on healthcare facilities in India, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had last year announced framing of stringent measures to check their migration to the US.

India has only one doctor for every 1,700 people. In comparison, the doctor-population ratio globally is 1.5:1,000. While China’s doctor population ratio stands at 1:1063, Korea 1:951, Brazil 1:844, Japan 1:606, Thailand 1:500, the UK 1:469, the US 1:350 and Germany 1:296.

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