I fully agree with the views expressed by former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss (“The wrong way for rural doctors,” Feb. 27). I too feel that the Medical Council of India's proposal to train an alternative cadre of doctors for rural service is not wise. Human beings are the same as far as the anatomy, immune systems and diseases are concerned. The government will end up wasting human resource and incurring a huge financial loss if it goes ahead with the proposal because the graduates completing the three-and-a-half year course will fit into neither the group of nurses nor MBBS doctors. Villagers may not take the treatment seriously if they know that the doctors treating them are less qualified. Even before the introduction of the course, people like Dr. Ramadoss are referring to them as quacks. One can well imagine their fate after they graduate. No one will go to them except for first aid.

Kanaparthi Srinivas Rao,

Hyderabad

The impoverished rural and tribal population already stands discriminated against socially, economically and educationally. The people are hardly in a position to understand the importance of health. As Dr. Ramadoss has suggested, the services of lakhs of professionals in alternative medicine can be utilised to reduce the regional imbalance and to optimise manpower in the health sector. But the argument that nurses would be more qualified with four years of training is untenable. The curriculum and the nature of training for a medical professional would be different from that of a paramedical staff. Moreover, the description of doctors completing a three-and-a-half year course as ‘qualified quacks' is premature.

V. Priya Kannan,

Easton

Dr. Ramadoss' suggestions are welcome and useful in the long term. But something is better than nothing. Therefore, we should not dismiss the government's proposal right away. Also, it is not possible to deploy the best brains in rural areas where they are hardly needed. For primary treatment, graduate-level trained medical professionals are good. They can refer patients in need of critical care to hospitals in cities.

Ajeet Upadhayay,

Hamirpur

Allopathic (MBBS) doctors are not prepared to serve the rural community, which is why many have called for the revival of LMP-style professionals. Their medium of instruction should be the regional language, not English. Once taught in English, even the rural service doctor will not be prepared to go to the villages. He will start taking pride in the fact that he is “educated.”

At the same time, the government must implement the well-meaning suggestion and recommendation of various committees that doctors who study on state aid should return a portion of the benefits they get through their services. Of course, the government is obliged to provide primary facilities to the doctors serving in rural areas. Doctors, too, should spare a thought for their less fortunate brothers and sisters.

K.C. Kalkura,

Kurnool

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