New Delhi: The Union health ministry has clamped down on doctors who wish to settle abroad after pursuing higher studies there, especially in the US. Grappling with a severe shortage of doctors in India, it will no longer issue no-objection certificates to doctors who want to settle abroad permanently.
“The government cannot be expected to facilitate the wish of doctors from India to permanently settle abroad, by certifying that their services are not required by the country, when the country is grappling with a severe shortage of doctors,” the Union health ministry told the Bombay high court.
The ministry submitted an affidavit on Thursday to the Aurangabad bench of the HC to oppose a plea filed by the Central Maharashtra Resident Doctors Association. The doctors had challenged an August 2015 government decision to stop issuing a ‘no obligation to return to India’ (NORI) certi- ficate to doctors studying in the US, except those aged 65 and above.
“The decision is an affront to human rights and violates our right to life and equality,” said the association through its lawyers Rameshwar and Rahul Totala. The HC bench of S V Gangapurwala and A M Badar had in January observed that the petition has been pending since August wi- th no response from the Centre and had given a last chance to it to respond.
The Centre is now saying that it had taken a policy decision in 2011 to stop issuing Nori certificates. Such certifications served as a waiver to a mandatory rule in the US of a two-year return to the home country for students on a visitor exchange study programme on an exceptional need certificate (ENC) or statement of need (SON)” for further specialised studies which were unavailable in India.
“The NORI is a US Homeland security requirement and Indian government is not bound under the Constitution to issue such certificates as it goes against public health interest of citizens of India said the ministry,” said the ministry, adding “there is a condition where every student has to assure that he will return to India to completing the medical training…as a matter of policy, the government must look at the interest of citizens first.”
Totala said the association would file a rejoinder and the HC would hear the matter post vacation now. This came even as the government says that to ensure more doctors are added to the diminishing pool of surgeons and general practitioners, it plans to set up 56 new medical colleges.