India faces a shortage of more than five lakh trained doctors and the inadequacy of healthcare is felt more in the rural areas. In this situation doctors trained through short courses in medicine can be used to fill the demand-supply gap in healthcare.
Nutan Upadhyay is an educationist, working with tribal community of Jharkhand.
The medical scenario in India is quite grim. It must be acknowledged that even today in rural India more than 600 million people do not access quality healthcare. We see that there is a low implementation of norms, inadequate policy reach outs and utter sense of callousness in the rural health sphere an issue that has added to these concerns is the fact that even today there is a shortage of more than 5 lakh doctors in the country.
Sometime ago the Union Health Ministry made a proposal that professionals would have to undergo a 3.5 year course in modern medicine and then be sent to practice healthcare in rural areas of the country. The introduction of this type of short courses is not new. We saw that during the early phase of independence too doctors who had been trained in short courses would be required to give medical services in rural areas. Later this practice was abolished as it was believed that India would be able to give birth to adequate number of MBBS doctors.
However it has been seen that even today this goal has not been achieved. It would not be incorrect to say that these short courses that are suited to the medical needs of the country can give an adequate supply of trained doctors. However what must also be kept in mind is that such training should be given to those who have had an aptitude for medicine and those who are from within the society. It can also help if these short courses could be taught in Indian languages.
There is a widely accepted notion that doctors who are trained in these courses are not of good quality. However if they are trained well and are given well-structured function, they can prove to be of immense help.
Moreover, with the help of trained MBBS doctors and other trained staff, this can help build our rural healthcare in a much more nuanced manner. Therefore, it must be taken up as a major demand of the contemporary health scenario in our country. Meeting the adequate number of doctors may take a while but until that happens, these doctors will help us create better medical infrastructure.