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MBBS course duration to be extended further, one year rural stint compulsory

Published On: 06 Feb 2012 | Last Updated On: 06 Feb 2012

Government of India is planning to extend the duration of its undergraduate MBBS course to 6.5 years from 5.5 years presently.

The health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and the Medical Council of India (MCI) discussed in a meeting on Saturday the revisions to be made in the MCI Act to add one year compulsory rural posting for all MBBS students before getting an MBBS degree. This was earlier proposed by former health minister A Ramadoss in 2007.

The proposal has still not been approved but discussions are going on and in another 2 weeks time Council will prepare a module on how to make MBBS doctors visit and work in rural areas. The decision will then be taken by the ministry. The sources from MCI revealed that if the proposal gets approval then 40000 Indian students will be employed for a year in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The one year rural posting is expected to help students come across unique cases and diseases, which will enhance their learning. The students will be paid as doctors and not as interns during that extra year of rural posting.

The lack of human resources in health sector in India is causing great impact to the flagship program NRHM, and the susceptible populations in rural, tribal and hilly areas fail to access the adequate health services. A study revealed that the number of doctors in urban areas is 4 times that of rural areas and that of nurses is about 3 times higher. Till March 2010, health centers had to suffer vacancies even in available posts due to excessive delays in recruitments. Posts were lying vacant for more than 34% of specialists, 20% of pharmacists, 17% of ANMs and 10% of doctors.

Planning Commission study discloses that India is facing shortage of 6 lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and 2 lakh dental surgeons, leading to a poor doctor-patient ratio. As per a ministry report, while only 6.3% of the doctors’ posts were vacant on paper, 67% of the doctors were reported to be absent from their duties.  

As per the ministry, posting in rural areas would provide MBBS students a better opportunity of securing a post graduate (PG) medical seat. As an incentive, the MBBS doctors who have served in rural areas would get extra 10-30 marks in PG exams. The health minister has also declared that the MBBS students who will serve in rural areas for 1 year would get 10 extra marks while those serving for 3 years in remote areas of India would get 30 additional marks. He also added that 50% seats in PG diploma courses would be reserved for government medical officers who have served for at least 3 years in country’s most backward areas.

Source: Times of India

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