MCI refuses recognition to IGNOU PGDCC once again
New Delhi: In a major setback to doctors possessing Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Cardiology (PGDCC) by Indira Gandhi National Open University, (IGNOU) the Medical Council of India has once again refused to grant recognition to their degrees.
PGDCC course was commenced, in 2006, by the IGNOU, to develop a cadre of non-interventional cardiologists, and involved a "two-year full time rigorous training in top cardiac hospitals in the country". In order to be eligible to apply for the PGDCC course, a candidate was required to have an MBBS degree.
However, despite thousands of candidates clearing the course from the year 2006 to 2013, MCI noted that the IGNOU had commenced the PGDCC course in blatant violation of the applicable rules and regulations of medical education and that, therefore, there could be no question of according any recognition to the said course.
Seeking Respite in the matter, Association of Clinical Cardiologists, an association of more than 1500 PGDCC candidates approached the Delhi High court seeking relief. The court after going through detailed arguments asked IGNOU to reply to MCI for recognition and MCI to reconsider the matter
''...the respondents, i.e, the Central Government and the IGNOU - are directed to consider, afresh, the application, of the IGNOU, for grant of recognition to the PGDCC qualification awarded by it, under section 11(2) of the IMC Act. This Court has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the said application, or on whether the PGDC qualification deserves, to be recognized under section 11(2) .That decision would have to be taken by the Central Government after consulting the MCI, on its own merits. Needless to say, the pre-eminent consideration, while examining the application of the IGNOU, would have to be fostering of excellence in medical education, aimed at bringing, into the world, medical professionals, were able to render the optimum service to the public, in the best interests pof society. "
The matter was brought up in the December 2019 meeting of the MCI Board of Governors whereby The Board of Governors perused the letter dated 18.11.2019 of the Central Government by which the application dated bearing reference IGNOU/SOHS/D/ 2019/6109 dated 04.11.19 made by Director, School of Health Sciences (SOHS), IGNOU to the Central Government seeking recognition of Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Cardiology (PGDCC) Degree offered by IGNOU from 2006 -2013 has been forwarded for furnishing considered views/recommendations to the Ministry.
The Medical Council of India Board of Governors considered the application and discussed in detail the matter pertaining to the recognition of IGNOU PGDCC
The Director, SOHS, IGNOU in his application inter alia referred to the provision of the IGNOU Act, 1985 that empowers the IGNOU to provide for instruction in such branches of knowledge... as the University may determine plan and prescribe courses of study for degrees, diplomas certificate or for any other purposes. It has also been stated in the said communication that the PGDCC was launched in 2006 to "train M.B.B.S. Doctors in non-interventional cardiology, so as to bridge the gap in cardiac care at the level of Taluqas and small Towns".
The letter mentioned that there was a precedence of offering 2-year Diploma in Cardiology after MBBS (Diploma in Cardiology offered by GSVM Medical College, Kanpur from 1974 to 1993). Furthermore, it has been mentioned that the detailed curriculum, implementation process, quality assurance system, certification were designed by eminent cardiologists by following the MCI guidelines. The said communication also states that about 1700 Doctors have been trained in PGDCC by IGNOU in renowned Medical Colleges and Hospitals across the country as a full time two-year programme and that the State Governments of Assam, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have utilized the services of PGDCC qualified Doctors to manage the ICU and Cardiac Care Units.Therefore, in order to enable such pass-outs to enable clinical practice, the IGNOU has requested the Ministry of Health, Government of India to Recognize PGDCC qualification awarded by it under section 11 (2) of the IMC Act.
The Board of Governors noted that section 20 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 requires the Council to "prescribe standards of post-graduate medical education for the guidance of Universities, and may advise Universities in the matter of securing uniform standards for postgraduate education throughout India." The Council has in exercise of powers conferred by section 33 of the IMC Act read with section 20, with the previous sanction of Central Government laid down the Post-Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000. Regulation 7 of the PGMER provides as under:-
Nomenclature of post-graduate courses- The nomenclature of postgraduate courses shall be as provided in the Schedule annexed to these Regulation:
Provided that in case of a post-graduate medical degree and diploma courses instituted prior to the commencement of these regulations with the approval of the Medical Council of India and Which have not been included in these regulations, the institutions concerned shall continue such course till the students admitted complete the said course. "
The Prescribed MD/MS/DM/M.Ch/ Diploma courses are contained in the schedule to the PGMER, 2000. For the discipline of Cardiology a three year DM (Super Speciality) course that is open to only holders of MD (Medicine) / MD (Pediatrics) or MD (Respiratory Medicine) degree only. Thus Cardiology is a discipline of advanced Medical Sciences in which a person who hold MBBS and an MD Degree in Medicine / Pediatrics / Respiratory Medicine only is considered to be eligible to pursue a course in Cardiology. The Schedule to the PGMER does not envisage for any Diploma in Cardiology. The contention that such a course was offered by GVSM Medical College, Kanpur cannot come to the aid of the IGNOU as that course was in vogue prior to the coming in of PGMER, 2000 and has not been offered by the said Institution after 1993.
The Board of Governors further noted that in terms of regulation 6(2) to PGMER and Institution running post-graduate medical qualification has to apply to the Central Govt., through the affiliating University when the first admitted batch is due to appear in the examination conducted by the University During the course of such examination the MCI is required as per section 17 of the IMC Act, 1956 to examine the adequacy of the standards of medical education including staff, equipment, accommodation, training and other facilities prescribed for giving medical education. Further, Regulation 8(1) of PGMER mandates that postgraduate courses can be offered only in an institution that has an undergraduate teaching facility. By virtue of 8(1A) the Central Govt. is empowered to exempt any such existing / proposed non-teaching institution or specialist institution or autonomous body owned and managed by the Central / State Govt. from fulfilling the prescribed provision of having an undergraduate teaching facility, and allow starting postgraduate course.
A perusal of the "List of Programme Study Centre (PSCs) and Programme in charge (PIC) for PGDCC Programme" shows that the IGNOU has been offering PDCC course in 70 hospitals across the country through doctors who possibly all are Cardiologists and are academic Counsellors for such programme. The curriculum of the PGDCC course shows that the students are provided with 50 lecture sessions in two years and there are 27 video programs developed for PGDCC programs. The students are required to have practical training and must have atleast 90 days or 3 months training in echocardiography. Out of 70 hospitals, only 4 are part of a medical college namely MS Ramaiah Medical College and Teaching Hospital; UN Metha Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre Ahmedabad; Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh and Guwahati Medical College, Guwahati while remaining 66 are private hospitals. In so far as the running of PGDCC is considered it cannot be provided as per regulation 12(3) pf PGMER in a Medical College. The name of the programme in charge as also that of faculty involved in the PGDCC programme is provided however, the medical qualifications that are held by such doctors is not stated.
"Thus, the PGDCC programme offered by IGNOU fails to satisfy the requirement of MCI Regulations," the MCI noted
After detailed deliberation on the matter, the MCI Board of Governors decided that PGDCC programme offered by IGNOU cannot be recommended for inclusion in the First Schedule of the IMC Act, 1956 for batches admitted from 2006 to 2013 admission cycle on following grounds:
1. The said course is not included On the schedule to the PGMER 2000.
2. The mandatory inspection of examination required to be conducted at the time of passing out of first batch or even subsequent batches admitted in the course has never been applied by the IGNOU through the Central Govt thus the Mel cannot satisfy itself as to the fulfilment of the adequacy of the standards of medical education including staff equipment, accommodation, training' and other facilities prescribed for giving medical education.
3. The PGDCC by IGNOU has been imparted in hospitals .that do not conform to the requirement of regulation 8 of the PGMER.
4. The PGDCC of IGNOU does not in any way fosters excellence in medical education or is aimed at bringing into the world, medical professionals, who are able to render the optimum service to the public, in the best interests of Society since it provides a wrong impression about specialization in Cardiology to general public while it does not meet standard requirements of recognition of a postgraduate qualification by BoG/MCI.