I agree with the observation in the editorial “Doctors for the villages” (Feb. 3) that the Medical Council of India’s proposal to create an alternative set of doctors for rural areas by offering a three-and-a-half-year course — Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery — may turn out to be a cure worse than the disease.

Corruption and absenteeism are prevalent in the rural health set-up with not just doctors but also other paramedical staff commuting from nearby cities. The government should offer special quotas in PG seats for doctors working full-time in rural areas. Modern infrastructure should be developed in villages for not only doctors but all paramedical staff. Special incentives should be given to doctors who want to set up private practice on a full time basis in villages.

S. Venkatlaxman, Visakhapatnam

In the past, we had Licensed Medical Practitioners who were competent family doctors. Today, we are forced to go to a hospital to treat even fever. The rush in hospitals and patients’ woes can be reduced considerably if we evolve a holistic course in family health covering minor surgeries and rural medicine.

The increase in the number of competent doctors with good diagnostic skills will surely reduce the number of quacks.

Mathew Gainneos, Thiruvananthapuram

For the uneducated and the semi-skilled, health is wealth. It is their only means of livelihood. The existing primary health centres and sub-centres are ill-equipped. While the stocks of medicine are inadequate, doctors are unwilling to work in rural areas. They cite lack of infrastructure, housing, and educational facilities as reasons. The sick, therefore, approach quacks or go to medical shops for treatment. Against this backdrop, the government’s proposal to launch the Rural Doctors Scheme is laudable and imperative. The short-term course should focus on basic anatomy, and diagnosis and treatment of basic ailments. However, the candidates should not be exposed to surgery as it requires expertise, experience and assistance of anaesthetics.

S.S. Abdul Azeez, Muscat

Given the poor doctor-patient ratio and the fact that there are many villages with no doctors, it is difficult to speak for or against BRMS. The government should look at why doctors are averse to rural service. Lack of security, lack of timely transfers and inadequate training are the common reasons cited. It is easier to become a specialist or a super specialist than a primary health care doctor.

D. Subrahmanyam, Puducherry

Most of the deaths that take place in rural areas are not due to sub-standard professionals or poor quality of medical facilities. They occur due to the delay in providing basic preventive treatment when it is needed most. How many doctors are ready to serve in rural areas? The MCI’s proposal is welcome.

Neeraj Valiya, New Delhi

Most of our villages are outside the purview of medical advancement. The luxurious urban lifestyles deter trained physicians to move to villages. The duration of the BRMS course should be increased to four-and-a-half years. The government must channel a part of its budgetary allocation for starting new institutions offering BRMS degrees in the remotest rural areas.

Surej J. Puthuveettil, Thiruvananthapuram

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