Allaying fears that the proposed rural medicine degree will compromise on the quality of healthcare, 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,” he said.
The Medical Council of India’s Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery programme — to train doctors exclusively for rural areas — will begin from this academic session.
Conceived along the lines of the barefoot doctors in China to meet the shortfall of trained medical professionals in villages, the four-and-a-half-year course will train students in basic healthcare for primary prevention and treatment.
“Given the very elementary nature of ailments and diseases suffered by people in rural areas, the availability of modern technical tools — such as rapid diagnostic kits, early detection, simple treatment and timely referral — can now be performed by short-trained professionals and do not require any highly-skilled personnel,” said Azad.
The course will include six months of rotating internship with primary health centres across districts in rural areas. A batch of 25 students will be selected and trained at any of the 150-bedded district hospitals, which exist in 150 districts.