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

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Doctors for Rural Areas

Is the opposition to the BSc in community health course in the interest of the rural population?

A Parliamentary Committee on Health recently asked that the government abandon its proposal to introduce a new educational course that will train healthcare providers for rural areas. The committee’s suggestion appears in tune with the Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) shrill cries that this new course, the BSc in community health, will create “half-baked doctors” and with the general response of the MBBS doctors’ lobby that the government would be playing with the lives of the rural population.

This is a strange argument considering that India’s rural population already suffers untold misery due to the abysmal paucity of medical practitioners. According to the Rural Health Statistics 2011, rural India has a shortage of 76% of doctors, 53% nurses, 88% specialist doctors, 85% radiographers and 80% laboratory technicians. The sub-centres fall far short of the required number and out of those in existence nearly 25% operate without water and power. More importantly, more than 50% of doctors enrolled for rural postings are absent from their positions.

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