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Disputed health course awaits PMO clearance

  • Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 11, 2013 00:43 IST

India’s overburdened public healthcare system could get a boost if an ambitious proposal to churn out science graduates in community health, who would also help treat simple ailments, goes through. The Prime Minister’s Office is slated to take a call on this.

Despite opposition by a medical lobby, the health ministry is keen on the proposal because it is an innovative way to create a much-needed pool of healthcare providers. A parliamentary stranding committee has opposed it too.

The proposal seeks to start a four-year B.Sc (community health) course in regular colleges, whose curriculum has been approved by the Medical Council of India, the country’s medical education regulator.

Pass outs will assist in preventive medicine, but they would also be equipped to prescribe “over-the-counter” (OTC) medicines for common ailments. OTC is a category of drugs, such as paracetamol, which doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription.

“A community health specialist should not and cannot meet requirements of a medical doctor. This is an unnecessary confusion. Medical lobbies fear their stranglehold on our healthcare system will weaken,” health secretary KN Desiraju said.

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