Rural healthcare course to be 'need-based'

With MCI out, government now proposes a ‘need based' curriculum for the Bachelor of Rural Healthcare course

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Sonal Matharu | July 14, 2010



The course proposed by the health ministry to meet the requirement of doctors in rural areas has seen a change in the recent affidavit filed by the government. The course called, Bachelor of Rural Healthcare (BRHC), was designed by the health ministry with the help of the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2009 after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Delhi High Court against the government’s neglect of health needs in villages.

The case was up for hearing on July 14 but could not be taken forward. This was the first hearing after the MCI, which was an active body in designing this course, was dissolved. 

Though the health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has given a nod to implement the course which will be introduced in medical colleges in districts, the state’s approval is still crucial. Since health is a state subject, the centre cannot impose the states to implement the course.

The recent affidavit filed by the government says, “A Task Force with four sub-groups was formed on May 31, 2010 to formulate a need based and duration compatible course curriculum for BRHC course.”

The lawyer representing the health ministry in this case, Khalid Arshad, said, “The consultation with the states is in process. We are waiting for their response on implementing this course and cannot direct them to implement the course. MCI may or may not want the course, but we are aware of the ground realities. This course, once implemented, will decentralize the healthcare.”

Meanwhile, Meenakshi Gauthum, the petitioner, said, “It is a positive move that the government has changed its statement and they are now talking about a need-based curriculum. But we are still not clear with their response. We want more details. Instead of forming such a formal curriculum for rural health practitioners, they should try to inculcate those people who are already working as community health workers.”

The BRHC proposes to start a four-year course in medical colleges which will be set up in all district hospitals. Students of the same district with science subjects till high school will be allowed to enroll for this course. On completion of the course, the graduates will have to serve in the same district they come from. The graduates will not be called doctors and will not be allowed to perform surgeries. The idea behind this model is to retain the healthcare providers in the rural areas who will serve their community.
 

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