Eminent Odisha Doctor Slams Suggestion To Reduce MBBS Course Duration

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Bhubaneswar: A Central government committee’s recommendation to cut down the duration of MBBS course by a year is a “disaster” and “not well thought out idea”,  eminent neurosurgeon from Odisha, Prof Ashok Kumar Mahapatra said.

“The five-and-a-half-year MBBS course cannot be shortened as it is already the shortest that can be. It is a well thought out decision to keep the MBBS degree five-and-a-half-year as one needs to learn a lot and a lot of skills need to be developed during the course,” said Mahapatra, the former Director of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar.

“Rather the government should come up with better ideas to boost the healthcare sector in rural areas,” he added.

‘Bridge Healthcare Gap In Rural Areas’

Talking exclusively to Odisha Bytes, he suggested that the government should start short-term courses like Diploma in Medicine and Surgery instead of reducing the MBBS course duration. This will produce more healthcare professionals, who can easily work in villages and bridge the access gap in healthcare in rural areas, he added.

“We must start a 3-year Diploma in medicine followed by a six-month internship as India has very less number of medical seats as compared to the demand and requirement for doctors in our country. These diploma holders will be more willing to work in primary and community health centres in rural India as they have lesser chance to pursue post graduate,” said Mahapatra, who is at present the Director of the Medical Programme of SOA University in Bhubaneswar.

“As big corporate hospitals or super specialty hospitals wouldn’t recruit diploma holders the way they recruit MBBS or specialists, so these trained healthcare workers can definitely show interest working in rural areas for a longer period,” he added.

‘Govt Neglecting Healthcare Workers’

Expressing displeasure over the government’s “double standard” towards healthcare workers, the veteran neurosurgeon said the government has done nothing for doctors and other healthcare workers, who worked in the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to their contributions to society.

“When engineers, bureaucrats, technocrats, teachers and other professionals were working from the comfort of homes and receiving salaries, doctors were putting their lives at risk every day in the fight against the pandemic to protect people and entire humanity. But what has the government done for these hardworking doctors in terms of providing both monetary and non-monetary benefits,” Mahapatra lamented.

‘Start Campus Recruitment In Medical Colleges’

The veteran neurosurgeon also said there should be campus recruitment facilities for MBBS pass outs like those studying in IITs and IIMs. “Why is there is no campus placement in any medical college? There are some bright students who need financial support soon after their degree. They can get jobs and start a career if this option is available for medical students on campus,” he said.

“The government should make it mandatory for big corporate hospitals to recruit young medical graduates from their colleges, which will also greatly help in addressing the shortage of doctors in the country. Besides, it can also offer immediate employment opportunities for some needy students,” he added.

‘Flaw In GoM Recommendations’

Recently, a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik had suggested that the MBBS course should be reduced to four-and-a-half years, including a six-month internship period.

The recommendations were made in a report titled “Converting Adversity into Opportunity to Strengthen Healthcare Infrastructure in post-Covid19 India”, which was submitted to the government in October.

Apart from shortening the duration of the course, the report also suggested mandatory two-year postings in rural areas for all doctors.

Speaking on rural posting, Mahapatra said, “This rule is not going to work out as long as the government doesn’t ensure basic benefits for doctors serving in rural areas.”

“The mandatory rural posting is not a new thing, but the government has to improve infrastructure in rural areas first to make it successful. There is no water facility, no school for children, and security is major concern in rural areas. In such a situation, how will doctors serve there,” he asked.

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