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Delhi HC seeks report from Centre

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The Centre on Thursday was directed by the Delhi High Court to file a detailed affidavit on the contempt plea filed against it to start a three-year...

The Centre on Thursday was directed by the Delhi High Court to file a detailed affidavit on the contempt plea filed against it to start a three-year "Bachelor of Rural Health Care (BRHC)" course for those practicing medicine in primary health centres in rural areas. Justice S K Mishra granted eight weeks to the Health Ministry to reply and sought a detailed affidavit indicating if steps have been taken in this regard.

"Let a detailed affidavit be filed by the Centre. Further, steps, if any, have been taken by the government so far," the court said and fixed December 5 for further hearing of the case. The bench was hearing a contempt plea, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, by petitioner Meenakshi Gautam who said rural people have no worthwhile access to medical help and face great risk to their lives due to lack of qualified medical practitioners in rural areas. Seeking an order to initiate contempt proceedings, she said a division bench of this high court had on November 10, 2010 ordered Medical Council of India to begin BRHC course, approved by the Health Ministry, by March 2011 but nothing has been done so far. The court had given MCI two months time to finalise the curriculum and syllabus of the three-and-half-year Primary Healthcare Practitioner Course, approved by the Union government, she added.
The course was named BRHC, she said adding the court had given another two months to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the endorsement of the course syllabus. "The course should have been introduced by March 2011 as per the time-line stipulated by the court in its order. No such course has been introduced by the Ministry as of February 2012. MCI had apparently opposed the course in 2011 and is not willing to notify, the petitioner said, seeking the court's direction to begin the course.
Observing that "it is better to be treated by a doctor than by a quack," the high court bench had earlier allowed the government to go-ahead with the introduction of the bachelor degree course to take care of primary health in rural areas and asked MCI to prepare a syllabus for it.
"To practice in primary health care centre, a person has to complete the course and undergo a six-month internship thereafter," the government had told the bench adding it approved the course and MCI had to implement the same. The Centre had further said that after obtaining an experience of five years in BRHC, if the person does a bridge course for two years, he will be equivalent to a MBBS doctor. MCI had told the bench that it will prepare the syllabus within two months, after which the government had to issue a notification in six weeks to begin the course from academic year 2011-2012.
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