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

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The 'Basic' Doctor for Rural India: A Failed Promise?

An analysis of the landmark 194646 Bhore Committee report suggests that vested interests may have played a role in shaping India's health system and the medical profession in such a way that the majority of the population remains totally neglected. Nothing short of legal action can begin to reverse the existing crisis of health human resources that rural India currently faces.

We gratefully acknowledge the help and inputs of Supreme Court advocates Prashant Bhushan, Indira Unninayar, and Pranav Sachdeva into leading this debate towards a legal platform.

India is the largest supplier of foreign medical graduates to the United States (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates 2008) and UK (General Medical Council 2010) but its own rural areas have been chronically deprived of professionally trained doctors. We trace the antecedents of this situation to India’s first health policy drafted by the Bhore Committee in 1946. The committee imposed the construct of a “basic” doctor, trained through 5½ years of university education, on a country not yet ready for it. It abolished the shorter licentiate qualification and disregarded systems of indigenous medicine, even though licentiates formed two-thirds of the country’s registered doctors, and, together with indigenous practitioners, provided the bulk of rural healthcare. A few of the committee’s members put up a strong dissent against these recommendations. We present the dissenters’ comments and argue that even today India needs an alternative cadre of primary healthcare providers for rural areas.

The Bhore Committee Report

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