Ashish Chauhan| TNN | 

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat, which has been witnessing a shortfall of specialist doctors especially in rural areas, has come up with a new concept — that of ‘Bal Doctor’ (Kid Doctor) who will look after children’s health under the school health programme.
Officials of the state health department said that a Bal Doctor named Kajal Bhupatbhai Khant (11) who is a student of class 6 in a government school in Navagam village of Arvalli district, has been nominated as part of a pilot project in primary schools.


These Bal Doctors will be equipped with stethoscopes and medicines which they will dispense to their classmates. The Bal Doctors will be given a stock of ayurvedic medicines to deal with any health related issue, said officials.

An order of the health department to the primary schools reads: “One Bal Doctor will be appointed in each primary school for which the state education department and the health department will function jointly.”

“These Bal Doctors will give Ayurvedic treatment in cases of minor diseases. They will encourage other students to wash their hands before mid-day meal. They will also monitor Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Programme (of the National Health Mission) which is held every Wednesday. They will work to make their fellow students addiction-free and give primary information about seasonal diseases,” reads the order.

The Bal Doctor will be given an apron and badge so that he looks like a doctor. “He will be additionally given a torch, Ayurvedic medicine kit, booklets and posters of health-related problems,” said a health official. He will also be trained under a Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) of the health department.

A nodal teacher will be appointed by the health and education department to monitor the Bal Doctor’s activities.

“In every school, we are trying to introduce the concept of Child Doctor so that we can orient young people. We went to a primary school in Navagam village in Arvalli district and identified a Bal Doctor last week with the help of students and teachers. We also gave her a kit with stethoscope and a kit of medicines, including Ayurvedic medications. The kids identified as Bal Doctors might become a doctor tomorrow,” Dr Jayanti Ravi, state health commissioner, told TOI.

However, office-bearers of the Gujarat chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA) did not like the idea of giving the responsibility of doctor to a kid.

“Though I am not aware of the initiative, I can definitely say that this must not happen,” said Dr Yogendra Modi, president of Gujarat state branch of IMA.

“We only believe in allopathic medicines and a person must be considered as a doctor only after he has completed 5.5 years of MBBS. This concept of allowing a school kid to give medicines is not proper,” Dr Modi said