New Delhi: The new rural course introduced by the Centre for the appointment of doctors in rural areas met with a strong resistance from the fraternity. And now it is being opposed by political leaders as well.

Therefore, in order to carve a middle path, the ministry is planning to deploy trained practitioners after three and a half years of training for health care in rural areas. However they would not be called doctors. According to the Ministry of Health, rural health is their priority, not the title of this cadre.

According to top officials of the Health Ministry, the government never considered the rural health workers equal to doctors as the Medical Council of India (MCI) called it Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS) which was renamed as Bachelor of Rural Health Care after the national review.

Their chief aim is to develop a cadre which serves as a link between the Auxiliary Nursing Midwife and the doctor. This would enable basic health facilities in the village to treat minor illnesses.

In spite of several new health policies and encouraging programmes by the government, the resistance of the doctors to serve in rural areas is a major hurdle. The government is also not keen on introducing a binding policy for the purpose. As a result, the government is not left with any other option other than introducing such a cadre.

 Meanwhile, the degree for Bachelor of Rural Health Care will be conferred by the state government but the curriculum has been developed by the MCI to maintain consistency.

However, the new course besides facing resistance from doctors is also being opposed by the political leaders. Congress Lok Sabha member PC Chacko had openly expressed his opposition to the course in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month and had claimed that all the Lok Sabha members who are trained doctors have opposed the move. Six such members led by MP Jyoti Mirdha have filed their protests in writing.

It is to be noted, the course has been prepared by the MCI in consultation with experts of the private and government medical colleges, universities, state governments and Union Health Ministry. The three-and-a-half year course will be introduced in districts all over the country and the doctors will be required to serve in the nearby villages for a minimum period of five years.