20 September 2010

Expanding rural health care

My article in the Financial Express today takes up the point that we need a multi-pronged strategy to address the shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas. The new BRHC course is a positive move, because it brings with it government and Medical Council accreditation. The Chhattisgarh course ran into deep trouble just because this backing was not available, but those who graduated and placed in the primary health centres have proved to be a boon for rural health care in the state where the socio-economy and geography have been limiting factors in expanding health services. Tamil Nadu has cracked the model with sufficient medical colleges, good infrastructure in rural areas etc. but other states have not got that far yet.
The BRHC course cannot be a one-point solution to healthcare. The point is that there is no need for a new course, if, and this is the big if, there is sufficient supply of doctors coupled with good infrastructure and incentives in the rural areas. Meanwhile, the course needs to be integrated with the general medical degrees to allow BRHC graduates to move into the mainstream over time. Hopefully the proposed National Commission for human resources in health will do a complete overview of the system and create a complete solution to meet the challenge of providing healthcare services to our large and diverse population.

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