The Medical Council of India (MCI) has told the health ministry that the rural MBBS programme of three-and-a-half years,as it has been envisaged for the last more than two years,is not feasible. It has said the course cannot be called Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS),degree holders cannot be replacements for MBBS doctors in sub-centres and the curriculum cannot be based on disease module.
MCI Board Chairman Dr K K Talwar said: We have told the ministry that this can be a BSc degree for a family health worker or a community health worker. Using the word Bachelor in the name of the degree is misleading because it gives rise to a sense of equivalence with MBBS,which is creating confusion. The curriculum,too,has to be changed. He also clarified that the course would in no way become a shortcut to an MBBS degree.
A senior health ministry official said: MCI is looking at the proposal and working out the modalities. They will get back to us in due course.
Dr Talwars stand is similar to that of the MCI Board led by his predecessor Dr S K Sarin.
At a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare held last week,issues such as the modalities of regulation of such a cadre,the apprehension that through a bridge course holders of the BRMS degree would be made full-fledged MBBS doctors and the logic of having two different types of doctors for urban and rural India were raised.
The committee also questioned the rationale of training BRMS students in module form basically taking the common diseases and learning the symptoms,diagnosis and treatment of them rather than first getting the kind of exposure to physiology and anatomy that doctors get. That,according to Dr Talwar,will now change as the MCI takes stock of the curriculum afresh.