The Medical Council of India claimed on Friday that there was a broad consensus on its proposal to create a dedicated cadre of rural healthcare workers.
The proposal, which the MCI mooted in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was approved at the end of the two-day workshop of stakeholders here. But the name of the degree was changed from Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery to Bachelor of Rural Health Care.
Addressing a press conference after the consultations on what is being described as an alternative or rural model of undergraduate medical education, MCI president Ketan Desai said the scheme would help to tide over the acute shortage of skilled manpower in the rural healthcare sector and grapple with the necessity of replacing rampant quackery by well trained manpower at the grassroots, since the existing model was ‘urban centric.’
The four-year course has to be approved by the Central Health Council, represented by the State Health Ministers, and subsequently ratified and implemented by the States, health being a State subject. If approved, the State Medical Councils will have to recognise the course by a separate ‘schedule,’ through an amendment to the Act.
Mr. Desai said the plan was to create 300 medical schools to run this course, and preference would be given to the districts that did not have medical colleges. Admissions would be district-based as far as possible, but the degree-holders could be asked to serve in any ‘notified area’ in the State, and their services could be sought in case of emergencies and natural calamities.
The degree-holders would not be allowed to serve in urban areas. Nor was there any provision for them to pursue a postgraduate course. This has been challenged in the Delhi High Court through a public interest litigation petition.
The curriculum would be modular, and students would be taught medicine, surgery (hernia, abdominal pain and appendicitis) obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, orthopaedics, community medicine and forensic medicine, family medicine, pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology and microbiology.
A mechanism would be created for updating the curriculum periodically to make it ‘timely and relevant,’ Dr. Desai said. And it would lay emphasis on national health programmes.
The competencies required for a student to practise would be clearly spelt out and notified as in the case of the Graduate Medical Education Regulations for MBBS. The model would be piloted in a few government institutions. If the trial proved a success, the model would be extended to the private sector.