A good idea in India:
Aditya Bandopadhyay has treated the sick for more than twenty years. He works in the village of Salbadra, in the state of West Bengal, India. He has no degree in medicine….
Bandopadhyay is a rural medical practitioner, one of an estimated 2.5 million in India who practise medicine without formal training. Among his ilk are people who have worked as assistants to doctors, those who inherited the use of traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and homeopathy from their parents, and graduate lab technicians who switched to healthcare. None of them are doctors by any definition. They are entrepreneurs who have picked up bits and pieces of medicine through informal apprenticeships and built up large practices on their own. Or, in the words of the Indian Medical Association, they are "quacks."
Yet their popularity remains steadfast in their communities. They fill a void in India's healthcare system that cannot be ignored. And rather than mocking, berating and clamping down on them, at least one organisation is planning to harness them.
For the past couple of months, Bandopadhyay has attended a training programme that may transform the way he goes about his work. It teaches rural practitioners the basics of medicine, from human anatomy to pharmacology, giving them the theoretical knowledge that they lack. Run by the West Bengal-based nongovernmental organisation Liver Foundation, it aims to equip people like Bandopadhyay with the skills to treat acute cases of common illnesses, and, crucially, help them judge when their patients need to see real doctors.
You will not be surprised to hear that this effort has been getting some protectionist pushback from the Indian Medical Association. For that part of the story—and for many other interesting details—read the rest of the article here. For more on India's health care system, which is more market-oriented than America's, go here.