December 02, 2007

Health ministry may hive off medical education into new department

In a move that could trigger a major debate among the medical fraternity, the government is reportedly toying with the idea of creating a separate department of medical education in the ministry of health and family welfare under a secretary level officer.

Coming just after the Presidential assent to the AIIMS (Amendment) Bill 2007, said sources familiar to the development, the proposed department is set to strangle the autonomy of Medical Council of India (MCI) and ignite fresh sparks in the ongoing ministry-medical fraternity tussle.

At present, MCI, a statutory body, regulates medical colleges, affiliation, new colleges and doctors registration.

According to the initial plans, the new department will be headed by a non-IAS secretary who may be picked up from the medical fraternity, sources close to the development told SundayET.

The new department is expected to handle regulatory and administration works related to medical education in the country. The sources further said that the creation of the new department was necessitated by the government’s conscious decision to allow more medical institutions on public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

Once the new department is created, the functioning of the country’s medical college-cum-hospitals, including All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research and others, will be under two departments. “The health issues will be handled by the health department, and the issues related to the medical education of such hospitals will be administered by the proposed department of medical education,” said the sources.

Understandably, such a technical department — which may also oversee the education content of the medical institutes — will be headed by a health specialist. At present, there are 14 technocrat secretaries or equivalent to secretaries at the Centre who are not from any of the Central administration services.

Experts, however, feel the move could curtail the autonomy of MCI and strangle the autonomy of government institutions. “The idea looks good on paper, but what’s the need of a separate department when you have a fully functional Medical Council of India to look into medical education? Even the proposed appointment of a medical fraternity member as the secretary is of no consequence because eventually he has to report to the minister. I feel the move is one more attempt at curbing the autonomy of statutory bodies,” said Dr Ajay Kumar, president, Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Now, even as the move aims at co-opting the private sector to streamline the education system and meet the rapidly rising demand for medical professionals, the stage looks set for a fresh round of tussle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To me it is a good news. The medical education system has worsened gradually and it would be better to separate these two for better clarity of vision and removing the obstacles in any initiative.

Di Sinha (Our senior colleague, who talked on course restructuring), can have his say if the new system comes in.



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