A step India is taking could make doctor shortage a non-issue in coronavirus battle

With India likely to shortly begin reeling under a massive doctor shortage, the government is now considering letting fifth-year medical students join India’s coronavirus fighter brigade, reports have said.

According to a proposal being vetted by Health ministry and the Board of Governors in Supersession of Medical Council of India (BoG-MCI), students of senior classes could be (provisionally) permitted to treat Covid-19 cases.

Along with these medical students, the govt is also looking to rope in retired doctors for its virus containment effort, says a report by ToI.

This important development comes a day after Dr Devi Shetty, the noted chairman and founder of Narayana Health, suggested that MCI make these regulatory changes to save millions of lives.

“India is the only country in the world which, just by changing MCI regulations, can produce over 1.5 lakh doctors and specialists out of thin air. This is our greatest ammunition against the Covid-19 pandemic,” the world-renowned surgeon had said.

As per the steps under consideration, doctors in vital disciplines like anaesthesiology, pulmonology, cardiology and radiology who are waiting to appear for the final exam with a “Board Eligible” degree should be allowed, with immediate effect, to start helping in the management of covid cases.

India has around 50,000 such specialist doctors who can play a huge part in case coronavirus cases in the country happen to rise exponentially. The suggestions say these specialists could be handed their “Board Certified” degree at a later stage, after passing the exam.

Besides, Modi government could also be looking to provide temporary practising licences to medical colleges passouts from countries like China and Russia, who currently have to pass and Indian test first before setting up practices here.

The move, currently under discussion at the highest level, is important because it can plug the shortage of specialists. As of now, a shortage of doctors looks like a clear possibility given a highly likely surge of cases in the weeks to come.

The ToI report quoted ministry sources as saying that Health minister Harsh Vardhan has told Niti Aayog member V K Paul, who also heads the BoG-MCI, to review the proposal.


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