March 13, 2011

MCI planning steps to perk up health care sector - Vision 2015

The state of medical services in India might undergo a sea change very soon as the apex body governing these services, Medical Council of India (MCI), has some big changes in mind, especially for the undergraduate medical education.

Broadly speaking the three chief objectives of the council are improving the quality of medical education, capacity building and providing performance-based incentives. With several innovative steps, they are planning to tackle various issues that are weighing down medical care so as to achieve various short term and long term goals that would ultimately give the best available care to the ailing populace of the country.

Improving quality of education: For the improvement of quality of education, the plan is to completely restructure the present format of the MBBS course at the undergraduate level. From a simple 5-year long classroom coaching the format is set to be shortened by six months. After the completion of this period, a student is to take up internship for a year's time.

Additionally, the students would be exposed to clinical cases right from the beginning of their course with an aim to gain more practical knowledge.

In order to make medical education more contemporary, modern technologies like e-learning and m-learning will be introduced. The subjects that are taught will all be grouped into three categories, with several of them like radiology and dermatology being made optional. Also, there would be several electives like bio-informatics, HIV medicine, lab sciences, etc.

Improving skills/capacity building: In order to ensure skill development in the future medicos, there would be a list of necessary skill sets that they need to master in order to get their license. Centers are to be established that would facilitate learning while working.

To build up the professional capacity of doctors under training district hospitals, taluka hospitals and primary health care centers are to be linked with the medical colleges. The seats available in all colleges are to be increased as a short term solution to counter the problems that are bogging the health sector. The medium term solution includes upgrading the existing medical facilities by encouraging public-private partnership in the field of healthcare. Long term solution would be setting up of new medical colleges and hospital.

The intellectual capacity of those teaching in medical colleges are to be improved by conducting faculty development programs, encouraging younger medicos to take up teaching to increase the pool of faculty and making provisions for dual and interdisciplinary appointments. Moreover, the retired teachers and consultant pool in various government departments would also be made use of as teachers. In fact, even the age of superannuation of medical faculty in certain areas is to be increased.

Introducing incentives for teachers: The incentives such as financial rewards and grants would be given out to faculty and the institutions so as to improve their performances and quality of work.

MCI is aiming to achieve a complete transformation of the health care in the country by adopting all these measures.

The main goal that would be achieved through the new improved curriculum and capacity building initiative would be to have sufficient number of doctors so as to have a better doctor-patient ratio.

Improving doctor patient ratio: The doctor-patient ratio in India is as high as 1: 1,722 if only allopathic doctors are taken into consideration. If other doctors are considered as well, the figure becomes 1: 1781. This means that for more than 1,700 patients only one medico is available.

Cuba has a much better count, having one doctor for 170 sick people. The situation is twice as good in our neighbour and the most populous country in the world China where the doctor-patient ratio is 1: 950. Looking at the other BRIC nations, one is awe struck by the fact that one doctor in Brazil can look after 900 patients while in Russia the number is as low as 300. Ideally, the ratio should be a doctor for 500 people.

The MCI identifies this huge disparity and has prepared a mandate to improve the condition, wishing to bring down the ratio to 1: 1000 in another two decades. In their 'Vision 2015', they have listed their aspiration to review the current state of affairs thoroughly to devise reforms for a better future. Their strategy is to develop ways to direct the medical education in the country in a better direction, making it as good as in the developed countries. They also wish to prepare the novice medicos well prepared to face the challenges that come up as the world of medicine keeps evolving every day.

All these steps are expected to ultimately lead to a better system of medical care being made available to the patients in India.

Link: Original Article

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