February 21, 2010

BRMS no substitute for doctors, feel experts

Lack of doctors and proper health care in rural areas cannot be corrected by compromised health workers churned out by the proposed Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS) course feel experts, who add that such degree holders will in no way substitute MBBS doctors, thus denying the rural population a right to good health.

"On one hand the health care in metros and big cities is quite advanced. On the other, rural areas where 60 per cent of the Indian population resides does not even have basic health care (primary care). This gap, however, cannot be filled by compromised health workers in the name of BRMS. It is against the fundamental right of a citizen of India where every one should be provided with quality health care of similar standards at affordable cost," said S Arulrhaj, president of the Commonwealth Medical Association a conglomeration of national medical associations of commonwealth countries.

Ashok Adhav, national president of the Indian Medical Association, said, "Factors like paucity of doctors, low doctor-population ratio (1.62 per 10,000 only), absence of doctors, lack of infrastructure facilities contribute to the absence of proper health care in rural areas. But this situation cannot be corrected by compromised health workers in the name of BRMS. The IMA strongly opposes this proposal."

Former state president of the IMA Devendra Shirole said, "If the service of qualified doctors is denied to the rural population, early detection of complicated disease conditions and appropriate treatment will be hit."

Meanwhile, the 84th Central Council of the IMA said it is committed to the health of rural Indians and also unanimously and strongly objects to the proposal to introduce the BRMS course, which is a compromised MBBS course, to take care of the rural population of India. "As per article 14 of the Indian constitution, all citizens of India are equal, whether rural or urban. The IMA demands that rural Indians be offered the same standard of health care which is offered to urban Indians. We appeal to the Ministry of Health, Government of India, not to dilute the standards of health care for the rural people. The IMA is of the opinion that only an MBBS degree should be the basic allopathic medical qualification in the country," said Adhav.

Arulrhaj suggested, "At least 25 seats need to be reserved in district medical colleges for candidates who will have to work in rural areas of their choice for the first five years, with annual recertifications. After the five years, they would be free to pursue a post-graduation degree, since, by that time, a second lot of rural doctors' will come in."

Adequate allowances, facilities like rural service allowances, proper free accommodation, education allowances for children, vehicle or vehicle allowances, appropriate reservation for education and employment for children, updation of knowledge, facility for interest-free personal loans etc. should be extended to doctors working in rural areas. Implementation of the Bhore committee recommendations of three-tier system of health delivery should also be done, said Arulrhaj.

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