After the recent development over mandatory rural posting for MBBS doctors, with the government saying no to the earlier compulsory posting, the need for shortage of doctors in the rural areas needs to be addressed more closely.
The government is now reported to be relying on its close network of AYUSH practitioners and paramedics in the interim. It plans to set up a special cadre of AYUSH specialists for immediate redressal of the present situation.
Legal permission for the practitioners of the Indian Systems of Medicine (Ayurveda, Unani, Yoga, Siddha and Homeopathy) to practice allopathy will be required from the MCI, medical education regulator, as a part of the move.
At a much broader level, appropriate training will be imparted to equip the new cadre with the integrated medicine knowledge, both for the practitioners and paramedics who can then be posted in villages to enable treatment access to the rural population.
Even though the previous attempts to regulate the framework of allopathic practice by Ayush practitioners have failed to get recognition from MCI, the thinking in the ministry this time is that Ayush practitioners and paramedics can be relied on for support in administering basic medicine for the rural population.
Sources in the Health Ministry say the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) are both being consulted on the proposal and have been asked to come up with modalities. A ministry official said, “We are in advanced stages of discussions with the MCI and the IMA on the contours of the new proposal. Compulsory rural posting of MBBS doctors is not working out. That plan has been shelved. There is resistance to mandatory rural posting from doctors. So we are talking to the MCI and IMA on alternative solutions. One potential solution is training AYUSH practitioners and paramedics in standard treatment protocols and posting them at rural healthcare settings where shortage of doctors is a huge challenge. The MCI is working on this proposal and the IMA has been consulted. We have told the IMA that if MBBS doctors won’t go to villages to administer medicine, someone will go. We want the IMA on board.”, as reported by The Tribune.
“We can fix accountability for referrals and track treatment access to the patient. Ayush practitioners and paramedics can both be trained in administering basic medicine and in referral protocols. It is better to have some treatment access to the rural population than to leave them to quacks,” said a ministry source.