The editorial “Doctors for the villages” (Feb. 3) was excellent and timely. The crux of the problem is not one of insufficient doctors but their inequitable distribution. The medical education system is investment-driven and, naturally, the goals set by young doctors are profit oriented — specialisation and super-specialisation, work in corporate hospitals, private practice in major towns and cities and work in foreign countries. Incentives offered by the government in the last two decades have not changed the mindset of doctors.
But the MCI’s proposal to have a three-and-a-half-year course, Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery, is discriminatory and amounts to treating rural people as second and third-class citizens. The only solution is the nationalisation of medical education, nursing, paramedical education and medical care.
The proposal of the UPA government and the MCI to introduce an undergraduate study of a shorter duration to produce doctors for rural areas is not desirable. It will compromise the quality of education and training. Is there anything rural or urban about human anatomy and diseases? The government should instead concentrate on improving the infrastructure in primary health care institutions, and curb rampant absenteeism which is the major culprit in the health care delivery system in rural areas.
V. Priya Kannan,
The idea of starting a short-term medical course is flawed in several aspects, although the intention is noble. India is a rapidly progressing country and its doctors and engineers are respected across the world. Introducing a three-and-a-half year course to churn out alternative cadres of doctors at this juncture would be a retrograde move. It is not as if rural folk do not need specialised care. Specialty hospitals need to be built in rural areas also. The government can think of having a separate quota for rural doctors, who can be absorbed after completing housemanship to work in rural hospitals only. Only those who agree should be allowed to apply under this quota.
It is indeed painful to note the government and the MCI pitching for a three-and-a-half year course on rural medicine and surgery. There are more than 3000 graduates who have finished six-year courses in medicine in Russia, Ukraine and other countries. They are languishing in small private hospitals due to the lack of recognition of their degrees. The government should open the doors to these graduates who, I am sure, will be ready to serve in rural India. The media, too, should highlight this aspect.
Alex Bergin Beno,