Guwahati: The Assam government is to invest Rs.60 billion to upgrade its rundown medical colleges and recruit specialist doctors on high salaries to take on the challenge from the state's flourishing private healthcare industry.
"It is just a matter of time before the three medical colleges in Assam would give the private nursing homes and hospitals a real run for their money," Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.
The three medical colleges located in Guwahati, Silchar and Dibrugarh are in shambles at present with most of the facilities and infrastructure totally outdated, besides being poorly managed.
"An estimated Rs.60 billion is to be spent over a five-year period to upgrade facilities and other infrastructure and make the three medical colleges as centres of excellence," the minister said.
Upgrading facilities apart, the government plans to recruit young specialist doctors and trained nurses with a hefty pay package.
"We shall recruit doctors with post-graduate degrees and pay them Rs.30,000 a month, besides trained nurses on a monthly pay scale of Rs.7,000," Sarma said.
"I am sure not many private hospitals would be able to match our salary structure."
The minister also announced that they would recruit at least 500 ayurvedic doctors with a pay scale of Rs.15,000 a month.
"Very soon we shall make healthcare totally free in the medical colleges and with latest gadgets and equipment, we hope to turn around the face of the present healthcare scenario in Assam," he said.
The government recently recruited 1,200 trained nurses for placement in rural areas.
"Hundreds of nurses working in the private sector opted for government jobs as we are paying much more than the nursing homes," the minister said.
A drive to fill up 234 vacancies for the post of medical practitioners in rural areas, however, was not encouraging despite the government offering a lucrative pay packet.
Poor healthcare facilities in rural areas have led to the mushrooming of quacks leading to a high mortality rate in Assam.