New Delhi: With the Union Cabinet all of a sudden announcing the dismantling of the Medical Council of India and appointing Board of Governors to run its affairs, the 7 member BoG indeed has its hands full now. Running the apex medical regulator along with the high positional responsibilities they are already bearing is indeed going to be a tough task. Having said that, their appointment has indeed brought a new hope to many in the medical fraternity who had lost hope of reform after the NMC Bill did not see any action in the last session of the parliament.
With taking charge, there are some critical decisions that need immediate attention of the BoG. These include some decisions where MCI was about to take a call on, some decisions on which it was sitting, while some which appeared to have been forgotten by the council.
Here are some of the decisions pending before the MCI, which we hope that Board of Governors will take an immediate call on
Probably the biggest bone of contention that has emerged in the recent times between the union government and the erstwhile members of the Medical Council of India is the issue of MD-DNB equivalence. The Government has made its intention clear of providing equivalence to DNB candidates from large private hospitals ( more than 500 beds) to enter the pool of medical academia (Read- DNB will be Equivalent to MD in ALL Respects: Health Ministry Clarifies on NMC Bill) while the council has been clearly stuck on its stand of making such candidates do additional 3 year residency in medical colleges, in order to become eligible for faculty posts.
With the Health Ministry, sending back the previous recommendations of the MCI in the matter, the decision was yet again to come up in the council meeting. With the BoG taking over, the decision will now be made by the 7 member committee.
Sources in the Health Ministry informed Hindu that this will be the first thing on the agenda of the Board of Governors (BoG) when they hold their meeting. If the equivalence is granted, around 2000 DNB candidates will be immediately available to join as medical faculty in medical colleges, and will indeed provide respite to the suffocating shortage of medical teachers in the country.
New MBBS Curriculum
In an era, where medical advancements and breakthroughs take place almost daily, our MBBS students have been studying a curriculum that is at least two decades old. With much procedural delays and debates, MCI this year finally announced that the new curriculum will be launched from academic year 2019-20 and the training of teachers has been started
Read Also: Coming Soon: New MBBS Curriculum
While many new/updated modules valid to the current setup such as Ethics, Communication have been added, the details of the new MBBS curriculum are still a mystery as the final approval and launch by the council is still pending. With the BoG taking over, the finalisation as well as the herculean task of its successful implementation now lies in the hands of the 7 member committee.
Unique Permanent Registration Number (UPRN)
One Country- One Registration- The decision of having one MCI number- a UPRN that would act as an Aadhaar card of doctors to , was indeed hailed by the fraternity when it was announced. The UPRN number stands as a solution to a number of issues that are plaguing the medical practitioners across the country, including duplicate registrations across various states, renewal of registrations, as well as that the growing menace fake medical practitioners. Moreover, it would finally help the regulator create a National Registry of Doctors. Till date, no one in the country, not even the Medical Council of India has any idea of how many doctors are actually practicing in the country and in which domain, a fact which stands as a basic requirement for any public health policy in the country.
While the policy towards UPRN was announced in 2017, its implementation is yet to see the light of the day. With the BoG under the chairmanship a NITI Ayog Member taking charge of the Medical Council of India, action in this regard must see some movement.
While DNB candidates in the country are fighting for the equivalence, candidates having degrees from College of Physicians and Surgeons are fighting for recognition. MCI on its part has been doing a Yo-Yo Movement when it comes to decision of recognition of these courses. In October 2017, through a gazette MCI recognised many CPS diplomas, while just 4 months later, through another notification de-recognised many other CPS degrees.
Recently Bombay High Court made a strong observation against these courses, asking the MCI to take corrective steps in the matter.
Union Health Secretary, Preeti Sudan recently informed Hindu Business line, this issue is also on the agendas that the BoG is soon going to address.
Medical College Inspections
There are three sides of every MCI inspection- one the medical college’s, one MCI’s and ONE that needs to be video-recorded, compiled and promptly put in public domain so that medical aspirants exactly know what sort of medical college they are seeking admission into. With the battle for recognition for majority of private medical colleges now reaching the doors of the court, even the Supreme Court recently lamented, “there are incessant disputes which reach this Court about what actually transpired at inspections of various private medical colleges by the Medical Council of India (MCI). The parties contest virtually every fact that is recorded in an inspection.”
While the court sought the assistance of technocrat Nandan Nilekani in providing tech solutions including AI solutions, the issue runs still deeper. As all the alleged corruption at the council finds its roots in the approval and recognition of private medical colleges and their degrees, any move towards a “Swacch Medical Council” will only come, if the BoG takes decisions to instill transparency and standardisation in the process of inspection of Medical Colleges.
The Author is the Editor in Chief of Medical Dialogues