New Delhi: Voicing concern over the poor state of rural health services, the Delhi High Court has asked the health ministry to consider launching a special medical course of three years to bring out doctors to man primary healthcare centres in the country.
The court issued notice to the health secretary to consider whether the present MBBS course can be reduced from five years to three years.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the union health ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) to consider changing the MBBS curriculum so that basic health facilities can be provided to the rural populace.
The bench asked the health ministry to file a detailed affidavit by Jan 27, failing which appear the officials have to appear personally to explain the delay.
"This is a very important issue. Almost 80 percent of the rural population is without access to basic public health and this fact should be considered seriously," the court said.
The MCI told the bench that the proposal for changing the MBBS curriculum is under consideration.
The court was hearing a public interest petition filed by a public health specialist, Meenakshi Gautham, who said that a person can practise modern medicine only after completing the MBBS course.
The MBBS graduates, the petition said, either rush to big cities or go abroad, and thereby deprive a large majority of people of proper medical treatment. People in rural areas are forced to depend either on untrained and uncertified rural medical practitioners, or on quacks.
"The irony is that 80 percent of the common medical problems and ailments can be treated at the level of primary healthcare and do not require attention of a professional trained in highly academic, sophisticated, five-and-half-year-long course like MBBS," advocate Prashant Bhushan said.