Mokokchung, 9 April (MTNews): The Nagaland Medical Students’ Association (NMSA) has demanded transparency in the recruitment process for Medical Officer (MO) posts, alleging that these positions are currently filled by contractual doctors.

The NMSA also expressed its profound disquiet and dissatisfaction regarding the recent advertisement issued by the Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC) for the Combined Technical Services Examination 2024.

According to NMSA, the advertisement, issued under Advertisement No. NPSC-1/04 (VOL-I) dt.28.03.2024, conspicuously omits recruitment for medical officer positions. This omission is particularly concerning amidst the growing need for healthcare professionals in the state, which has been grappling with a shortage of doctors.

According to the NMSA, it has been three years since medical officers were last recruited through the NPSC CTSE in 2021. Despite the government’s awareness of the state’s deficit in healthcare providers—one doctor for every 4,056 people, far from the WHO-recommended ratio of one doctor per 1,000—there has been a worrying lack of initiative to recruit for over 183 sanctioned medical officer posts currently occupied by state contract doctors and contractual COVID doctors appointees.

The NMSA underscored the plight of more than 250 medical graduates since the last exam in 2021, who are eagerly awaiting an equitable, transparent, and merit-based opportunity to compete in the state NPSC Combined Technical Services Exam for MO positions. The burgeoning number of medical graduates each year only intensifies the competition, further emphasizing the urgency for recruitment, it added.

The practice of hiring doctors on a contractual basis not only undermines the prospects of current students and fresh graduates but also affects the contract doctors themselves, given the upper age limit for the NPSC CTSE, it added. The stagnation of recruitment through NPSC CTSE is poised to have a detrimental impact on the state’s public health services, NMSA further said.

Moreover, NMSA strongly advocated for medical officer recruitment (MBBS) as the sole entry route into the state government’s Health and Family Welfare Department and opposed the creation of a specialist cadre for recruitment in the NPSC CTSE.

The shortage of specialist doctors in district hospitals across the state can be more effectively addressed by reorganizing specialist doctors stationed at primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres (CHCs) to district hospitals (DH). Reorganization of the specialist doctors posted in PHCs and CHCs to district hospitals can enhance the utilization of the valuable expertise and skills of these specialists.

“By transferring them to district hospitals equipped with advanced diagnostic and treatment technologies, we can elevate the quality of public healthcare services and optimize the delivery of care to our communities,” it suggested.

NMSA also called for the inclusion of all 22 seats occupied by in-service doctors who have joined the new state medical college, Nagaland Institute of Medical Science and Research (NIMSR). These seats should be advertised for recruitment of medical officers through NPSC’s written and viva voce examinations, NMSA said.

The association called upon the government to initiate prompt recruitment measures for all sanctioned MO posts currently occupied by state contract doctors and contractual COVID doctor appointees, as well as the 22 MO posts, thus granting all eligible graduates a fair chance to qualify by merit and contribute to the state’s healthcare services.

NMSA appealed to all conscientious citizens, civil society organizations, student bodies, and especially the government to prevent the erosion of the healthcare system by ensuring that medical officers are recruited through a process that is advertised, written, and viva qualified by NPSC, ensuring a meritocracy that provides the population with the healthcare they rightfully deserve.

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