September 27, 2009

Screening test must for Nepal MBBS

The Supreme Court has upheld a screening test that Indians with MBBS degrees from two Nepal medical colleges have to take before they can practise in this country.

Graduates from Manipal College of Medical Science, Pokhara, and Universal College of Medical Sciences, Bhaiarahawa, will have to sit for the screening test conducted by the Medical Council of India (MCI), the court said.

In the past, Indian students with MBBS degrees from the former Soviet republics, other East European nations and China had to sit the screening test. However, since March 15, 2002, all Indians who have graduated from any foreign medical institution have had to take the screening test unless their institute was specifically exempt.

The court was dealing with the petition of Yash Ahuja, a graduate from Manipal College, Pokhara, who claimed his institution had this exemption when he studied there. The MCI had withdrawn recognition to the two Nepal colleges only in 2008.

Ahuja had challenged a Delhi High Court order of 2008 that rejected his plea to direct the MCI to immediately grant registration to students who had graduated from these two Nepal colleges.

The petitioner said that since Manipal College was recognised by the MCI (when he studied there), the council could not insist on another screening test. Under MCI rules, the council can recognise any foreign degree on a reciprocal basis.

The MCI had recognised Manipal College on condition that the college would not admit more than 100 students a year. On the request of the Indian health ministry, the MCI inspected the college in 2000 and evaluated it.

On the basis of its report, the Indian health ministry issued a notification in 2001 recognising the MBBS degree granted by Kathmandu University to Manipal College students in or after July 1999. However, the MCI Act was amended in 2001 to provide for a screening test for all Indians who graduate in medicine from abroad.

The reason was that a large number of private agencies sponsored Indian students for medical studies overseas for commercial gain. Such students included many who did not meet the minimum requirements for admission to medical courses in India.

The screening test was meant to satisfy the MCI that these students had adequate skills and knowledge to practise in India.

In January 2007, the Indian government asked the MCI to again inspect Nepal institutions that taught the MBBS course and reassess the facilities available there.

An inspection team went to Pokhara but was initially turned away. The team later carried out the inspection despite protests by the college.

In 2008, based on the inspection report, the MCI withdrew the recognition granted to Manipal College and Universal College.

Students from these colleges who had been issued provisional registration and had started their internship with medical colleges recognised by the MCI were told they would be denied permanent registration if they did not clear the screening test.

They then moved Delhi High Court but failed to stall the new MCI directive. Doctors with Indian degrees have to undergo similar screening tests in the UK and the US.

Link: Original Article

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