December 28, 2009

Medical sector reforms on the cards - Health Minister

The Union Health Ministry has come up with a wave of changes for the Medical sector to encourage the participation of private players in the field.

The ministry, in order to cope up with the shortage of doctors in the rural areas has decided to create another cadre of medicos who will be assigned duties exclusively in the villages and rural areas.

Besides announcing the incentives, the ministry has also amended an Act of the Medical Council of India (MCI) to facilitate opening of medical colleges and institutes in the rural areas of the country.

The Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, while addressing a function after laying the foundation stone of a hospital here recently announced that his ministry has decided to introduce a four-year course for doctors to create another cadre of medicos.

"The proposed new cadre would although be below the MBBS degree but it will be recognized by the Medical Council of India (MCI). It is a three-year academic course and a year's house job. The syllabus has already been drafted by the MCI and has been dispatched to different states for approval," he added.

The final decision now resides with the state governments who have to recognize the course.

Expecting a revolutionary change in the health sector, Azad said that, "It is mandatory for all doctors, trained in the four-year course, to serve only in the rural areas. Urban areas are not their field of work once they are a part of this programme."

He further added that apart from this new cadre, MBBS doctors would also be deployed in the rural areas.

To rope in private players in the health sector, Azad said that the pressure on the government institutes would ease due to the opening of private hospitals.

The Health Ministry had amended the existing Act of the MCI to simplify the procedure of opening medical colleges in the underdeveloped and backward areas

"Zones are allocated by the Health and Medical Education Ministry divided into three parts and special attention will be given to those areas which lack basic health facilities. Various concessions have been already announced by the ministry," he said.

With new concessions every year, 4000 specialist doctors and a similar number of super-specialist doctors would pass out from different medical colleges.

Azad further informed that his ministry had given sanction to open 19 medical institutes on a par with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and 250 nursing colleges all over the country to cope up with the doctors and paramedical staff crunch.

"On an average, 20,000 candidates would pass out as qualified nurses every year from these colleges", he hoped.

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