'3-yr rural healthcare course likely to start from 2013-14'

A new three-year Bachelor of Science (Community Health) course, aimed at creating mid-level health professionals for rural areas, is likely to start from academic year 2013-14, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said today.

In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Azad said the course was earlier proposed as Bachelor of Rural Health Care (BRHC) but it has been changed in consultation with the Medical Council of India.

Azad said a task force has been constituted to frame norms for requirements of physical infrastructure, facilities required in rural health schools and examine aspects regarding

introduction of the course.

The course duration will be of three years with six months of rotational internship. Candidates eligible for the course will be those who have completed 10+2 exams with Physics, Chemistry and Biology as their subjects. Admission and deployment will be district- based as far as possible, Azad said.

"The proposed course is likely to be introduced in the states willing to adopt it from academic 2013-14," Azad said in his written reply, adding that, "after acquiring this degree, the graduates will be employed as Community Health Officers (CHOs) by states. Azad said the matter is also being examined by the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee.

A few medical bodies like the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have not welcomed the proposal, but the government is committed to introduce the course, with inbuilt safeguards, in order to address the serious concern of shortage of human resources in health sector in rural areas, he said.

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