In a complete overhaul aimed at cleansing the medical education system in the country, a task force of the Union health ministry has decided to scrap all regulatory bodies, including the Medical Council of India, Dental Council of India, Pharmacy Council and the Nursing Council, sources revealed.
There will instead be a single regulatory body – National Council for Human Resources in Health – which will oversee seven departments related to medicine, nursing, dentistry, rehabilitation and physiotherapy, pharmacy, public health/hospital management and allied health sciences, sources involved in the revamp process said on Thursday. The move now needs a formal government notification.
This will not only perform the regulatory functions but also carry out assessment and accreditation of medical and health institutions across the country.
Simply put, the council will coordinate the entire gamut of medical and health education in India. This will include drafting courses and the period of study, including practical training, subjects of examination and standards of proficiency, conditions for admissions to courses, provide guidelines on curriculum planning, monitoring and overseeing implementation of UG/PG courses with flexibility for local specific modules.
“Medical education today is dictated by bank balance and caste. The existing councils, besides being unwieldy, have failed to provide a synergistic approach. There is an urgent need for innovation in health-related education. It is unfortunate that medical seats are auctioned in front of students today. This is the best surgical solution for cleansing the system,” a source said.
The report which was discussed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 26, 2009 by the task force states: “Professional councils such as the MCI/ Nursing and Pharmacy Councils have been set up to regulate the practice of their respective professions, including education. However, many of these councils have drawn criticism from all sections of society and got judicial censure on several occasions.”
The council will be constituted as an autonomous body independent of government controls with adequate power, including quasi-judicial.
Private medical colleges also place a heavy burden of fees on students and their admissions procedures are not transparent. The curricula of medical schools both public and private are not designed for producing `social physicians’, the report said.
Sources said the Centre will now take this move to all the states before implementing it. On its part, the Union health ministry has already readied a draft bill titled The National Council for Human Resources in Health Draft Bill, 2009.
NATIONAL EXIT TEST
Though all central and state universities shall conduct their own examinations and award degrees, the national council will conduct national-level exit examinations to standardise UG/PG medical and allied health courses. This screening examination shall be mandatory for students who have successfully completed UG from a foreign institution that is not recognised by the council. With this, the National Board of Examinations (NBE) shall be archived.
HOSPITALS TO OFFER PG COURSES
With a mere 9% of the UG medical students offering PG, the task force has proposed that prominent hospitals across the country be allowed to offer post-graduate courses. “PG seats are so few that students have no option but to study what is given to them rather than what they want to pursue,” a source said.