Centre proposes new rural-centric medical course

Degree after three-and-a-half year study

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday informed state health secretaries on the basic formalities of introducing a three-and-a-half year course in bachelor degree in medicine and surgery.

These doctors will only work in rural areas. Azad said the rural cadres will be trained in district hospitals in which a certain number of beds can be utilised to train these rural doctors.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) will be holding a meeting with vice chancellors in the first week of February to fine tune the modalities to come out with the new rural medical course. The proposal seems to be a revival of the Licentiate Medical Practitioners (LMP) scheme that prevailed before independence.

Meeting needs

In the LMP scheme, students were trained as medical doctors for around three years, awarded a diploma and then asked to fulfill the needs of rural health care as a way to bridge the gap between demand and supply of skilled doctors outside metropolitan India.
LMPs, in fact, outnumbered MBBS graduates and they were largely serving in the rural areas. The Bhore committee report of 1946 unified medical courses into the standard five-and-a-half years MBBS degree course, abolishing the LMP option.

Last month, the West Bengal government came up with a similar proposal of creating a rural cadre of doctors through a separate and shortened medical course.

Though it was passed by the assembly, the proposal led to severe political and civil opposition with critics charging the government for considering village-folks as second grade citizens.

Earlier the central government proposed one year rural stints for fresh MBBS graduates, which would have given them additional weightage in their post-graduate entrance.

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