Allaying fears that the proposed rural medicine degree will compromise on the quality of health care, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said the plan was to train persons from rural areas on the basis of merit and not replace MBBS doctors.
"We are not replacing MBBS or specialist doctors. The proposal envisages training persons from rural areas on the basis of merit to equip them to primarily, I underline, primarily to work in 1,45,000 sub-centres, or at the most in Primary Health Centre, let it be very clear that it will be in addition to MBBS doctors," Azad added.
Asserting that not recognising the need for trained medical human resources in rural areas will not help the situation, Azad said in the proposed Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS) course, a community-based solution to the public health in rural areas is being discussed for the first time.
Emphasising the importance of quality in medical education and value of trained medical doctors, he said due to widespread vacancies in Community Health Centres and Primary Health centres coupled with burden of emerging diseases, rural population is being forced to go to cities and even to tertiary care hospitals like AIIMS for conditions which can be stabilised at local level.
"This results in huge expenditure and consequent impoverishment of rural masses. Due to physical, social and cultural distance from medical facilities, people tend to depend on unqualified quack who often provide irrational treatment," he said.