Rural MBBS course discriminatory, says NHRC

"This step would be discriminatory to both the people who get treatment from such half baked professionals and also to the medical students who take eight to 10 years to become specialist doctors," NHRC member P.C. Sharma said at a conference of state health secretaries.

As rural areas are facing a severe shortage of doctors, the health ministry has plans to introduce the three-and-a-half years MBBS course, to replace the traditional five years course.

The ministry believes that these doctors will provide treatment to millions at sub centres that operate under the primary healthcare centres across India. Sharma's comment came in a specific reference to the suggestion of having short-term training of persons for deployment in rural areas as doctors, in the health secretaries meet convened by the NHRC.

He said: "People in rural areas are as much entitled to get treatment from fully qualified doctors as are (people) in the urban areas." At the meeting, several issues were discussed to improve overall healthcare in India, including illegal medical practice, spurious drugs and healthcare facilities in rural and tribal areas.

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