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India is planning to make its undergraduate MBBS course six and a half years long, instead of the present five and a half years. In a meeting on Saturday, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and the Medical Council of India (MCI) discussed amending the MCI Act that would make a one year rural posting compulsory for all MBBS students before they can become doctors. The proposal was first mooted by former health minister, A Ramadoss in 2007. Speaking to TOI, MCI chairman Dr. K. K. Talwar said, it is not that we have cleared the proposal. This was discussed on Saturday. In another two weeks time, we will prepare a module on how we can make MBBS doctors go and work in rural areas. The ministry will then take a call. Talwar, however, cautioned we haven’t yet decided to introduce the six and a half year MBBS course from the next year.
The proposal is still in planning stages now. According to Talwar, if the proposal is cleared, 40,000 medical students will be utilized for a year in the National Rural Health Mission. Medicine is a long career. One year of rural posting, in which students will be exposed to unique cases and diseases will only do them good. However, “the students will not be paid as interns but as doctors during that extra year of rural posting”, Talwar said. India is facing an acute shortage of human resources in health the brunt of which is borne by the flagship NRHM. The vulnerable population in rural, tribal and hilly areas is extremely underserved. In 2006, only 26% of doctors in India lived in rural areas, serving 72% of the population. A study found that the urban density of doctors was about four times that of rural areas, and that of nurses, about three times higher. As of March, 2010, undue delays in recruitments resulted in vacancies even in available posts at health centres. Over 34% of male health workers, 38% of radiographers, 16% of laboratory technicians, 31% of specialists, 20% of pharmacists and 17% of ANMs and 10% of doctors’ posts were lying vacant. As per a Planning Commission study, the country is short of six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and 2 lakh dental surgeons, leading to a dismal doctor-patient ratio. An earlier ministry report had pointed out that while only 6.3% of the posts for doctors were vacant on paper, a staggering 67% of them played truant.
Courtesy: Times of India
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