LETTERS

DOI: https://doi.org/10.20529/IJME.2013.021


After supersession of The Medical Council of India

After the arrest of the then president of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and president elect of the World Medical Association, Dr Ketan Desai, in April 2010, the MCI was superseded by a Board of Governors for one year under the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2010, notified in The Gazette of India on May 15, 2010 (1). The board had six members and most of them were individuals with good academic standings and records of honest careers (2). The Board’s term ended on May 14, 2011 but it was extended for one year. No member of the previous board was retained in the reconstituted board.

Till date the Government is not sure about what to do with the MCI. The standard of medical education in the country is falling each day. This is reflected in the deteriorating healthcare available to the common man. When the MCI was founded in 1956 with the prime aim of maintenance of uniform standards of medical education at all levels (3), Indians had hoped for an improvement in the standard of medical education in the country.

One may argue that one year is too short a time for the board to bring any positive change in a system long plagued by corruption. Unfortunately, no positive efforts have been made in this regard by the board, though it had come up with some bright ideas. To name a few:

  1. Combined entrance examination test;
  2. Post MBBS exit test for doctors, before they are allowed to practice;
  3. Tests for doctors to level the playing field; with the objective of removing doubts over proficiency of graduates from different medical schools;
  4. Grading of medical colleges;
  5. Vision 2015.

The idea of holding a common test for entrance into the undergraduate and postgraduate course is good. However, the reservation policy, lack of uniformity among the state boards, and the demand for the test to be held in the regional languages, all present challenges. Also the strong lobby of owners of private medical colleges in the country is putting obstacles in the way of its implementation. The holding of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) was postponed to 2013. The Union health ministry has said, “The conduct of the test is a Herculean task which requires great deal of preparation and for paucity of time, it is practically impossible to resolve the issues raised by various state governments and hold the UG-NEET in 2012.” (4)

This board has gone on to allege that the majority of medical graduates of India are not fit to practise medicine (5). This statement, coming from an organisation which is supposedly responsible for setting the standards of medical education, is irresponsible.

Further, the statement of a member of the Board, which appeared in The Times of India under the heading “Centre considers test for docs to level playing field”, smacked of regional bias (6). The proficiency of a doctor cannot be judged only by the Institute from which he has graduated, but from what he eventually delivers to society. This idea of grading the proficiency and quality of doctors based on an examination is ridiculous. We have seen the corruption prevailing in any competitive examination in our country. People may have forgotten Ranjit Don, who was imprisoned for manipulating the common admission test for Indian Institute of Management and common entrance test held by central board of secondary education for admission into medical colleges, but I am sure the recent racket in the AIIMS admission test is fresh in our memory (7).

Regarding the grading of medical colleges, the Board has not made its stand clear on its purpose. The criteria are promising (8) but need some modification

The board came up with the concept of Vision-2015, which can be found on the official website of the MCI. The two basic needs identified are: increasing the number of doctors, and improving the quality of medical education by setting short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. Many factors will have to be taken into consideration in order to be able to meet both the objectives.. The present doctor to population ratio in India is 1:1,700. The members have suggested that this should be brought down to 1:1,000 by 2031. This suggestion has not taken into account the fact that the ratio of doctor to population in urban areas is better than in rural areas. The major steps suggested for improving this ratio are: increasing the number of seats in medical colleges, and opening new medical colleges as public-private partnerships.

At the time of Independence, India had only 23 medical colleges. There are 330 today. More than 70% of the colleges established in the last five years are in the private sector. It is evident that medical education in India is going to be completely in the hands of the private sector in the near future. With the poor state of government medical colleges in the country, the common man is going to suffer.

Sudhir Kumar Thakur, Department of Surgery, Saraswathi Institute of Medical Sciences, Hapur, Ghaziabad, UP-245304 INDIA e-mail: thakur_sk@rediffmail.com

References

  1. Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2010[Internet].New Delhi: MoLJ. 2010 May 15[cited 2013 Jan 16]/ Available from: http://www.mciindia.org/tools/announcement/ord0210.pdf
  2. Nagral S. Ketan Desai and the Medical Council of India: the road to perdition? Indian J Med Ethics. 2010 Jul-Sep;7(3):134-5.
  3. Medical Council of India. About MCI [Internet]. New Delhi: MCI. 2010 [cited 2013 Jan 12]. Available from: http://www.mciindia.org/AboutMCI/Introduction.aspx-accessed 16.01.2012
  4. Times News Network. Mamata’s opposition scuttles medical test. The Times Of India [Internet]. 2012 Jan 12[cited 2013 Jan 15]. Available from:. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-01-10/india/30611239_1_cbse-medical-colleges-examination
  5. Thakur SK .Post-MBBS exit test for doctors in India.Lancet. 2010 Dec3;376(9756) :1900-1.
  6. Sinha K. Centre considers test for docs to level playing field. The Times of India, Chennai edition [Internet]. 2011Mar 3[cited 2013 Jan 18]. Available from: http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:LowLevelEntityToPrint_TOINEW&Type=text/html&Locale=english-skin-custom&Path =TOICH/2011/03/03&ID=Ar01100
  7. Medical entrance test racket unearthed in AIIMS, five arrested. The Indian Express[Internet]. 2012 Jan 9[cited 2013 Jan 15]. Available from: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/medical-entrance-test-racket-unearthed-in-aiims-five-arrested/897625
  8. Chhapia H. Now, MCI to grade medical colleges. The Times of India [Internet]. 2011 Mar 18[cited 2013 Jan15]. Available from: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-03-18/india/29144614_1_medical-colleges-medical-council-naac
About the Authors

Sudhir Kumar Thakur (thakur_sk@rediffmail.com)

Department of Surgery

Saraswathi Institute of Medical Sciences, Hapur, Ghaziabad, UP-24530, India

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