Centre questioned on rural healthcare

Delhi High Court seeks details about deployment of doctors in rural areas

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Sonal Matharu | January 28, 2010



Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to file a detailed response on its action plan to provide trained medical practitioners for rural areas.

A division bench, comprising Justice A. P. Shah and Justice R. S. Endlaw, on Wednesday gave the health ministry four weeks to file an affidavit based on the recommendations of the Task Force on Medical Education submitted in 2005.

Last month, the ministry had announced a three-and-a-half-year course in rural medicine, Bachelor in Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS), in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by Meenakshi Gautham, highlighting neglect of rural healthcare.

The court, while reserving comment on the proposed course, asked the ministry to furnish details on its action taken on the five-year-old recommendations.

Meanwhile, BRMS, designed with the help of the Medical Council of India (MCI), a statutory regulator of medical colleges, has come under fire from the medical fraternity. Indian Medical Association (IMA), a voluntary organisation of medical professionals, filed an intervention petition to stop the proposed course alleging that the course would dilute medical education. “It will create MBBS doctors for the urban areas and BRMS doctors for the rural areas,” said Dr. R. V. Asokan, a member of IMA.

Meenakshi Gautham, who filed the PIL, believes the course would fail in its objective to train and retain doctors for rural areas. “The entire BRMS course does not talk of regulating and monitoring the system in case it takes shape. It is so superficial, so shallow," she said.

The next hearing on the case is scheduled for March 10.

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