November 25, 2009

Supreme court suggests 3-year MBBS to meet rural health needs

Taking serious note of the fact that basic health facilities were not reaching the poor in rural areas, the Delhi High Court Wednesday in a notice asked the health ministry to consider whether the present course can be reduced from five years to three years.

A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S.Muralidhar asked the health ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) to consider changing the MBBS curriculum so that basic health facilities can be reached to the rural population.

"This is a very important issue. Almost 80 percent of the rural population is devoid of the basic public health and this fact should be considered seriously," the court said while asking the ministry to file its response by Dec 9, the next date of hearing.

Asking the government to amend the present educational standards the court said: "You have to change the over-five years' MBBS course so that doctors who get trained don't fly to other countries or stick to the metro cities in the wake of good earning. Educational system should be changed to three years so that every doctor can cater to rural population."

The court was hearing a public interest petition filed by Dr. Meenakshi Gautham, a public health specialist, who contended that a person who completes his MBBS can practice modern medicine as soon as the course is completed.

These graduates, the petition said, either rush to big cities or go abroad, and therefore a large majority of people are not able to get proper medical treatment, and are forced to depend either on untrained and uncertified rural medical practitioners, or on quacks.

"The irony is that 80 percent of the common medical problems and ailments can be treated at the level of primary health care and do not require attention of a professional trained in highly academic, sophisticated, five-and a half-year long course like MBBS," advocate Prashant Bhushan said, and suggested the ministry should follow the educational model adopted by China.

Link: Original Article

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