The Jammu and Kashmir government has taken a slew of initiatives and administrative reforms to improve healthcare facilities in rural areas of the state. The reforms undertaken by the Azad government include a proposal to make two years rural service mandatory for in-service doctors seeking admission to post-graduate courses. Under the proposed move, the state health department has decided to incentivise rural service for admission to the PG courses. PG admission seekers will be given 10 marks every year of rural service up to a maximum of 50 marks. The proposal is still under process and, if approved, will go a long way in improving the healthcare facilities in the rural areas of the state, official sources said. Doctors can get the maximum marks by putting in five years of rural service and would automatically make a headway of other PG aspirants who do not wish to avail of this incentive, secretary health and medical education K B Jandial told PTI. Healthcare facilities are severely affected in J&K, particularly in rural areas where doctors do not want to be posted. There is shortage of nearly 900 doctors in the rural areas. To make up for the shortage, the government has referred 469 posts of assistant surgeons (medical officers) to the public service commission. There are another 350 posts of B-grade specialists (junior consultants) which are to be filled, the secretary said. He said the government has decided to fill up the vacant posts for the time being by hiring retired faculty members on contractual basis, till the commission selects the new staff. With this move, departments such as pathology, orthopedics and psychiatry, which were derecognised, have been recognised again by the MCI, Jandial said adding that efforts were on to get recognition for two more departments as well.