MPs back mandatory rural service for doctors

MPs back mandatory rural service for doctors

Graduates will be absorbed in the village healthcare establishments

They are also in support of the scheme to introduce a new cadre of rural healthcare professionals who will deliver the basic healthcare in villages.

Unfortunately, both schemes at the moment are stuck due to stiff opposition from many quarters, including the Medical Council of India (MCI), association of doctors, medical students and the influential medical education lobby, backed by many politicians.

But at the Consultative Committee meeting here on Wednesday, MPs backed the Centre’s proposal for mandatory one-year rural posting for fresh medical graduates and introduction of the Bachelor in Rural Health Care (BHRC) course.

Last year, the MCI board of governors under the chairmanship of S K Sarin had opposed the BRHC courses arguing that the council does not have the necessary wherewithal to monitor its implementation, sources told Deccan Herald.

The government was also not willing to start the three-year course without the MCI stamp. The new board under K K Talwar is now re-looking into the issues.

The proposed scheme envisaged launching a new BSc  course. The graduates would be absorbed in the village healthcare set up where their task would be to ensure implementation of the government health schemes, expand the immunisation coverage and raise awareness on hygiene and institutional care. They would not diagnose and treat any patient.

The MPs said BRHC graduates are necessary as the second line delivery mechanism to reduce the workload on ASHAs (community health workers in villages), who were implementing the national rural health mission in villages. Similar schemes are in practice in Chhattishgarh and Assam.

The Centre had also proposed mandatory one-year rural posting of fresh medical graduates, which was opposed by many.

Subsequently, the Health Ministry modified the scheme in which those who would opt for a rural posting would receive incentives in their academic and professional careers.

But even the incentives failed to generate any enthusiasm among the students as well as serving doctors, compelling  Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to lament on the apathy of the community for rural areas.

The MPs also suggested that stronger monitoring mechanism of NRHM activities should be needed to improve implementation and avoid misuse of funds.

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