The state of Tripura is reeling under huge shortage of doctors in terms of maintaining the COVID 19 situation. Moreover despite vacancies for 844 doctors and hundreds of unemployed doctors there has been no doctor recruitment since 2018.
Tripura has two medical colleges that include Agartala Government Medical College (AGMC) and Tripura Medical College (TMC). As the name suggests, AGMC, which is associated with Govind Ballabh Panth (GBP) Hospital, the apex state-run hospital of Tripura, is a public medical college while TMC is a society-run institution, which is given financial assistance by the state government from time to time.
Both medical colleges together produce 200 MBBS students every year and since the last medical officer induction was in March, 2018, over 600 medical students have passed out till now and are without government jobs.
The state health department recruited 75 doctors (in three batches) on contracts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, with Rs. 50,000 as fixed pay. However, a majority of them have left the jobs saying they were not ready to brave COVID duty without a regular job.
"They call us frontline warriors; like the Army and other paramilitary forces. But can they be sent to the battlefront with a temporary job?" asked one of the unemployed medicos.
The Unemployed Doctors Association of Tripura has placed three demands before the government.The recently passed out (unemployed) doctors of the state have come together to form an organization called Unemployed Doctors Association of Tripura and have placed three demands before the government.
The demands include immediate recruitment in the vacant posts of the state health services, issuing experience certificates to all doctors offering voluntary services in different COVID care centers, maintaining proper records of doctors offering voluntary service in these centers and clearing pending honorariums of doctors engaged in such duty during the pandemic.
A letter addressed to Chief Minister, Biplab Kumar Deb, signed by over 90 unemployed doctors from Agartala and its vicinity reads: In these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic, there is an additional requirement for more doctors to serve the people of this state and reduce the extra burden on the existing doctors of the state health service. We would also like to bring your kind attention to the matter that many of us have taken education loans, mortgaged our land and other important family assets to complete our MBBS course. Now our families are going through difficulties due to the mortgages and loans we took for the studies.
The All Tripura Government Doctor's Association (ATGDA) says that 30-40 doctors retire on an annual basis while many are engaged in administrative positions like medical superintendents, chief medical officers in districts and sub-divisional medical officers. Moreover 200 doctors are selected for post-graduate studies every year and today around a hundred are on leave after they were found COVID-19 positive in the line of duty.
ATGDA general secretary Dr. Rajesh Choudhury said, "The healthcare workforce is very less in the state. On several occasions we have reminded the government to initiate new recruitments. But we have now come to know that the government does not have sufficient funds. We shall reiterate our demand again".