ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Doctors for Rural India

What of the proposal to create a cadre of doctors exclusively for rural India?

One of the main obstacles in the delivery of adequate medical services to India’s rural population is the reluctance of medical graduates to serve in rural areas. Various carrot and stick measures pursued by the government have had limited success. The latest performance audit of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) rues that the shortage of service providers at different levels across the country “continues to pose a challenge”. Now, following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Delhi High Court, the central government has mooted the idea of an alternative undergraduate medical education programme that will train rural doctors, the Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS) course. Already, a sizeable section of the medical fraternity has voiced its protest against it.

In districts which do not have medical colleges at present, persons from rural areas will go through a three-year course on basic anatomy and diagnosis and treatment of common ailments through medical schools attached to government hospitals. The eligibility will be based on HSc (class XII) marks from the notified rural areas of the district, and the graduates will be expected to work in the country’s 1.45 lakh sub-centres in their respective states. They will also assist regular MBBS doctors in the primary health centres (PHCs). The registration will be on a yearly basis and there will be strict monitoring to ensure that the graduating doctors do not practise in urban areas for a specified period. It is hoped that the scheme will help destroy the hold of quacks in rural areas.

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