Doctors and medical students from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi held a silent protest in New Delhi on Thursday against the Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS) course proposed by the Health Ministry to meet the demands of healthcare professionals in rural areas.
The protestors displayed placards and banners outside the India Habitat Centre, the venue for the two-day workshop on 'Alternative Models on Undergraduate Medical Education' even as Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, addressing the delegates inside, sought to allay fears over the move.
“We are against this move by the government which will bring down the standards of medical profession, which is highly respected all over the world,” said V.C. Velayudhan Pillai, a member of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), an organisation of doctors with formal qualification of MBBS or more.
Pillai, who is also heading the group of doctors and medical students fighting against BRMS called the Joint Action Council Against BRMS, added that the proposed course discriminates between the rural and the urban people.
“BRMS will create sub-standard doctors for the rural areas. People living in these areas form 70 percent of our population and deserve the best treatment possible,” he said.
Naresh Chawla, president of IMA's Delhi state branch, Delhi Medical Association, said, “After a few years of practice, the BRMS doctors will move to cities and will serve without a proper degree. This will promote quackery. If the government decides to promote community health workers, it will have a better impact.”
The protest was followed by a meeting by the IMA where a medical students' body to fight against BRMS, called All India Medicos Association (AIMA), was formed. Anirudh Lochan, a Delhi representative of the AIMA, said, “Introducing this course will serve no good unless the infrastructure in the rural areas is strengthened. Instead of spending money on constructing medical colleges in the district hospitals, they should divert it to the existing colleges and increase the number of MBBS seats.”
The AIMA aims to mobilise medical students all over the country against BRMS.