Lack of quality healthcare services is a key concern for a majority of Indians. This is triggered by insufficient number of doctors catering to public health needs and the poor state of healthcare education in the country: Dr Dharminder Nagar, managing director, Paras Healthcare wrote thus on 31.07.2018.
The Indian medical system reflects many shortcomings, like an existing doctor-patient ratio of 1:1456 against the WHO recommended 1:1000 as on 31.01.2020.
India as on 21.05.2020 had 542 medical colleges and 64 stand alone PG institutes whose qualifications are recognized by the Medical Council of India (MCI). The prevalent practice of equating a doctor only with an MBBS degree holder has been impeding the expansion of healthcare education.
According to Shyamal Bhattacharya a microbiology professor at Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences, Arunachal Pradesh the MBBS course however has undergone a sea change to make it competence based medical education (CBME).
The need of the hour is a multi-pronged approach by giving due status to around 7 lakh AYUSH doctors"The development and roll out of the competency driven integrated curriculum marks an important milestone in the evolution of medical education in India. The 2019 Graduate Medical Regulations build on the previous regulations published in 1997 incorporating newer concepts and addressing the changes in health and illness and also the societal, economic and technology changes that have occurred over a decade and a half," Bhattacharya stated while quoting the MCI.
The month-long mandatory foundation course includes sports, language and early clinical exposure for the newcomers to sensitize them on the finer but integral aspects of the medical practice like attitude, ethics and communication.
The undergraduate medical education programme is designed with a goal to create an 'Indian Medical Graduate' (IMG) who possesses the requisite knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and responsiveness for functioning appropriately and effectively as a physician in his/her immediate community while being globally relevant.
However, the need of the hour is a multi-pronged approach by giving due status to around 7 lakh AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) doctors and 1.92 lakh BDS degree holders. Roping in services of licentiate medical practitioners who could be trained and deployed as healthcare providers in villages where there are acute shortage of allied healthcare professionals (AHP) like nurses, midwives and anesthetists is also another pressing need. There is also a need to focus on specialized courses for preventive care instead of curative care.
Last but not the least about 7,000 students every year travel abroad, mostly to Russia and China to study medicine. However, on return they have to qualify the Foreign Medical Graduates Exam (FMGE) as per MCI norms. These doctors should be facilitated to join the healthcare system.