While the union government has decided to go with the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) proposal to introduce a Bachelor of Rural Healthcare (BRHC) course, it is yet to be finalised whether BRHC graduates will be able to call themselves ‘doctors’.
After the two-day meeting held by the MCIconcluded on February 5 in Delhi, it was almost certain that the Union government will give their approval to the programme to ease the dearth of healthcare professionals in rural India.
MCI president Dr. Ketan Desai told DNA: “Officials from the government of India were present at the meeting and they have agreed to consider the MCI proposal to start a dedicated course for rural healthcare, with some minor changes. Now MCI will prepare a final draft and send it to the government for a final decision.”
Talking about the course, Dr. Desai said: “The Bachelor of Rural Health Care will be athree-and-half-year course and students who pass their SSC and HSC (science stream) from schools in rural areas only will qualify for admission.
Initially, the course will be started at government hospitals which have a capacity of 150 beds in a district and which do not have a medical college. The hospital will be given Rs15-20 crore for running the course. The strength of the batch would be 25-50 students.” However, according to Dr. Desai, it is not clear whether students who pass this examination will be eligible for the ‘doctor’ tag. Regardless of this, they will be allowed to practice in notified rural areas only.
“As the course is meant to provide better health services in rural India, students passing this course will have to serve in the government’s hospitals or health centres for a minimum of three years and after that, if they wish, they can start their own practice. But they will be licensed to practice in the notified rural area only,” the MCI president said.
He further said: “As different rural areas in the same state might have different health problems at local levels, we will finalise a basic course structure with essential subjects and some teaching modules can be added or changed according to local health issues.”
“MCI will be sending the final draft to the government of India in the next few weeks and the final decision from the centre will come by the end of March.After that it will up to the states when to start this course,” Dr. Desai said.
Nearly 280 representatives including health secretaries of states, vice chancellors of health universities and directors of medical educations in the states among others attended the programme.