This refers to the editorial “Doctors for the villages” (Feb. 3). Medicine and surgery cannot be classified as rural and urban. Hence the Medical Council of India’s proposal for a three-and-a-half years course, “Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery,” is a misnomer. It is the government’s duty to ensure standard health care to all. The number of medical colleges should be increased as and when necessary. Medical graduates should be made to serve in the rural sector for a while, irrespective of whether they graduate from private or government colleges. Voluntary work in rural areas should fetch extra credits at the postgraduate entrance examination.
P. George Varghese,
All right-thinking people will endorse the view that producing half-baked doctors to serve in rural areas is not the solution for delivering health care to villagers. The biggest challenge to health care today is the plethora of quacks practising in not only villages but also cities. The solution does not lie in producing more official quacks. The government should open more medical colleges and increase the capacity of the existing ones. The new colleges should be located in rural and semi-urban areas.
Sending more doctors to rural areas will not change the health care delivery scene significantly. There is an even greater shortage of medical infrastructure, nurses and other paramedical workers in villages.
N.V. Girish Kumar,
Doctors posted to rural areas should have at least two or three years of experience in a reputed hospital so that they become confident of handling cases independently. After a fixed number of years of service, they should be given monetary or non-monetary incentives so that rural service becomes attractive. They should also be given the option of joining the mainstream.
Increasing the MBBS-level intake manifold is a recipe for disaster. It will only lead to the continued churning out of specialisation-oriented, secondary and tertiary care physicians. Alternative cadres of community health practitioners will enhance the efforts at capacity-building.
Many experts on the National Rural Health Mission’s medical education committee supported the idea as a rational way forward.