February 22, 2010

Experts in favour of starting 4-yr rural medicine degree BRHS / BRMS

India's plans to introduce a four-year-medical degree in rural medicine has received a roaring thumbs up.

With majority of MBBS doctors refusing to work in India's most far flung and inaccessible areas, the Medical Council of India and Union health ministry's ambitious project -- the Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS) -- received support from a host of experts who had gathered in Delhi for a two-day national consultancy.

Most of the 250 experts, vice-chancellors and deans of medical colleges and directors of medical education, agreed to the immediate need of such a cadre, modelled on China's `barefoot doctors'.

According to the Planning Commission, India is short of 6 lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and 2 lakh dental surgeons. The country also has a dismal patient-doctor ratio -- for every 10,000 Indians, there is one doctor.

India, on the other hand, contributes to 20% of the world's maternal deaths, 30% of TB cases, 68% of leprosy cases, 23% of child deaths and 26% of vaccine preventable deaths.

What's worse, despite repeated efforts by the ministry to get trained MBBS doctors to serve rural stints -- promising them extra money and a better chance of getting through a post-graduate medical seat -- rural India's healthcare facility remains abysmal.

According to sources, 8% primary health centres don't have a doctor while nearly 39% are running without a lab technician and about 17.7% without a pharmacist.

Out of the sanctioned posts in community health centres, about 59.4% of surgeons, 45% of obstetricians and gynaecologists, 61.1% of physicians and 53.8% of paediatricians are found to be vacant.

Moreover, there is a shortfall of 70.2% specialists at the CHCs.

MCI president Dr Ketan Desai said, "The idea of BRMS is to get students from rural areas willing to work in their hometowns rather than try getting doctors who don't want to live or work in villages. BRMS will not replace but supplement and strengthen the current medical education system."

Dr Desai added, "The idea is to produce medical graduates who will cater to the specific health needs of rural India."

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "We have to reduce dependency on quacks by increasing availability of trained doctors. We are facing 50% vacancy in medical colleges in rural India."

MCI has already approved the proposed curriculum of BRMS. Under the scheme, BRMS degree would be acquired in two phases and at two different levels -- Community Health Facility (one-and-a-half years) and sub-divisional hospitals (secondary level hospitals) for a further duration of two years.

Link: Original Article

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