The Medical Council of India’s proposal to start a three-and-a-half-year course in medicine to train doctors for rural areas is certainly worth trying. The doctor-patient ratio is alarmingly low. It is sure to be worse if the figures for rural India alone are considered. An increase in the number of medical colleges cannot guarantee a solution. The government should not hesitate to implement its alternative plan.

D.V.G. Sankarrao, Vizianagaram

As a retired nursing superintendent and principal of a school of nursing with vast experience, I strongly recommend that instead of introducing a new course — Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery — to train doctors for rural areas, the government can appoint nurses with diplomas or degrees as rural doctors. The problem is not a shortage of qualified doctors. Doctors are unwilling to serve in villages. But nurses are willing to serve in villages. They have sufficient knowledge in primary health care.

Chellammal Mariappan, Chennai

The debate on BRMS has evoked a tremendous response. But one aspect that is conspicuously absent from the discussion is the standard of medical education in India. MBBS seats are available to the highest bidder today and this has reduced the quality of doctors. I shudder to think of the quality of BRMS graduates, who will be the major rural health care providers a few years from now. Establishing more rural medical colleges with stringent quality control, and compulsory rural service before post-graduation would be a better solution.

K.R. Kamath, Mangalore

The MCI’s proposal to create a group of half-baked doctors to provide the much-needed health care services in rural areas rings hollow. The rural folk have as much right to the services of MBBS graduates like their affluent counterparts in the urban centres. The dilution of standards in medical practice can prove to be as catastrophic, or even worse, as the rot that has crept into the sphere of higher education. What is needed is a stimulus for the MBBS graduates to work in the rural set-up. Doctors who go to villages should be allowed to generate their own income by providing quality medical service, which would motivate them to be both enterprising and service-minded.

Nainan P. Kurian & Elizabeth N. Kurian, Coimbatore

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