State medical officers oppose new degree course

The Karnataka Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) has strongly objected to the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) decision to introduce BSc in Community Health, a three-and-a-half-year course in medicine.

The bachelor’s degree has been introduced mainly with the objective to address the shortage of doctors in rural areas. Students completing the course will be trained to work in district hospitals and in sub-centres or primary health centres.

Addressing mediapersons on Tuesday, Dr H N Ravindra, KGMOA president, said introducing ‘half-baked’ courses and allowing students to handle a primary health centre all by themselves would be a public risk.

“Instead of launching new courses, the government should increase the number of medical seats and colleges so that more students graduate every year. The State government’s compulsory rural service will have more doctors willing to fill the vacant posts in rural areas,” he said.

Ravindra said the Central government had come up with similar courses — BRHC (Bachelor of Rural Health and Care) and BRMS (Bachelor of Rural Medical Science) — but these were not substitutes to the MBBS course.

“There are 15 lakh quacks practising in different parts of the country. This needs to be addressed first.

Although there are restrictions on students to administer only certain medical treatments, they might be compelled in the future to perform full-fledged treatment procedures, which could increase medical negligence cases,” Ravindra said.

As per norms, student cadres can only diagnose and treat basic medical cases, involve themselves in immunisation programmes and provide extended first aid, he said.

According to an MCI spokesperson, the syllabus of the BSc in Community Health course would be introduced in April next year.

The course is strongly backed by the Planning Commission and the Health Ministry.

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