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Role of Community Health Providers

Addressing Primary Healthcare Deficiencies

The National Medical Commission Bill 2019 has delineated the role of community health workers in primary healthcare. However, the bill has neither given an unambiguous definition of these workers nor spelt out as to how they could be effectively utilised to expand the reach of primary healthcare in rural settings, where there is an acute shortage of doctors. Training and skilling of these workers are short-term arrangements to address deficiencies in primary healthcare. What is required in the long term is regular monitoring of primary healthcare services and incentivisation of rural health service.

The National Medical Commission Bill 2019 (NMC Bill 2019) passed by both houses of Parliament early in August 2019 intends to replace the Medical Council of India Act, 1956 and bring about a thorough overhaul of the medical education system. While seeking to improve access to quality and affordable medical education, it also seeks to promote equitable and universal healthcare with a community health perspective.

The earlier version, the NMC Bill 2017 included provisions for maintaining a separate national register for entry of particulars and recognised qualifications possessed by licensed/AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha, sowa rigpa and homoeopathy) practitioners, who qualify the bridge course prescribed for these practitioners (Section 31 [8]). Section 49(4) of this bill lays down that a joint sitting of the NMC and the central councils of homoeopathy and Indian systems of medicine would decide on approving a bridge course for the practitioners of alternate systems of medicine to enable them to prescribe modern medicines.

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Updated On : 10th Feb, 2020

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