Regulator, Centre lock horns on allowing nurses to prescribe medication
The two bodies have opposed the move to depute nurse practitioners at primary healthcare centres (PHC) with the right to prescribe allopathic medicines.
“It’s a fact there is a shortage of specialists and MBBS doctors in the country and in the present scenario no specialist and MBBS doctor is interested in working in remote areas. Since major population of the country lives in villages, the Ministry has proposed sending nursing staff to PHCs so that patients could get primary treatment after proper diagnosis,” a senior Health Ministry official said.
Explaining further, the official said: “The whole idea is to diagnose and treat patients of diabetics, ENT, fever, cough, nausea, etc, at the PHC-level by trained nurse practitioners with the right to prescribe medicines. As per the proposal, the Ministry would depute health workers, having special training certificates in patient care from NOL-NHSRC after completing their BSc (Nursing),” adding that MCI and IMA should have supported the initiative as at present rural patients are at the mercy of quacks putting their life at risk.
Commenting on the issue, MCI president Jayshreeben Mehta said: “It’s not that we are against the move; we have opposed the proposal during discussion as we are bound to follow the laws of land. The Act clearly says that only registered MBBS practitioners are allowed to prescribe allopathic medicines. We have suggested other available options to Health Ministry to address to the shortage of doctors in rural areas.”
Even IMA general secretary KK Aggarwal told Millennium Post that as of now there is no such law that allows them (health ministry) to do so. “It’s not possible in present circumstances. If we allow nurses to prescribe allopathic medicines, the AYUSH doctors would also make a similar demand,” adding that if the Health Ministry was really bothered about addressing health issues of rural population, it should increase seats in medical colleges.
Its worth mentioning that Central Bureau of Health Intelligence’s National Health Profile (NHP) 2013 has revealed that in our country only 33 per cent of government doctors are available in the rural areas where nearly 70 per cent of our population lives. In terms of figures, only 29,562 of India’s 1,06,613 government doctors work in villages. As per the data, India has 9,18,303 doctors in the public and private sector for 1.21 billion people, but most of them choose to work in urban areas.