KATHMANDU, May 9: 65 Nepali doctors, pursuing medical education at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), have been working to defeat the pandemic in India without receiving a single penny for more than a year.
The doctors, undergoing training at AIIMS, have been working from March 2020 above and beyond their regular clinical duties, risking their own lives. It is usually the unpaid foreign resident doctors keeping the emergency services in hospitals running when resident doctors and students from AIIMS take to the streets for protests.
“We have been working for more than a year beyond our regular duty, but we have not been paid a single penny,” said a Nepali doctor, pursuing medical training at AIIMS.
There are currently 151 Nepali doctors pursuing medical education in three different institutes in India, including AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh and JIPMER Puducherry. Of them, 65 working at AIIMS have not received their salary for more than a year.
On May 22, 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured his Nepali counterpart KP Sharma Oli that the issue of stipend to Nepali Foreign National Doctors would be looked into expeditiously by his government. Thereafter, the Ministry of External Affairs of India had informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) “to ensure concrete progress with the directive of the Prime Minister by mid-September 2018”.
The PGI Chandigarh and JIPMER Puducherry complied with the directions and foreign nationals doctors are getting salary parallel with Indian counterpart doctors. However, AIIMS is yet to pay 65 Nepali doctors working there.
On April 28, 2021, AIIMS issued an order to recruit and train staff from all departments for COVID-19 management, including undergraduate and intern doctors, and pay them, but professionally trained doctors undergoing postgraduate training who are already in the service were not given the salary.
There is a provision at AIIMS not to pay salary by the Institute during the training period if any doctors are studying under sponsorship or if they are being employed by an institution or an authority. In this case, none of the 65 Nepali doctors training at AIIMS are employed or sponsored by anyone.
Junior resident doctors, except sponsored candidates, are entitled a salary of IRs 56,100 at The PGI Chandigarh and JIPMER Puducherry, butAIIMS has maintained that foreign nationals and candidates are not entitled any salary.
Naveen Kumar, first secretary at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, said that he is not well aware about the issue and suggested contacting government officials in Delhi for further information.
In Nepal, Indian post-graduate medical students studying at Tribhuvan University and B.P Koirala Health Science under self-financing schemes are paid a stipend of NPR 33,000 and 32,000 per month respectively.