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Privatise medical education to ensure health to all: Delhi High Court

Higher Education, Vocational Training

The Delhi High Court has given thumbs-up to privatisation of medical education to bridge the gap between the number of doctors available and the India’s teeming millions.

In a judgment delivered last week, Justice Kailash Gambhir pulled up the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) red tape that has been hampering the growth of medical education in the country.

The court was hearing a case filed by several private medical colleges, such as Teerthankar Mahaveer Institute of Management, Rama Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Kanpur, andSchool of Medical Sciences and Research, Sharda University, against an MCI decision that barred them from increasing their student intake from 100 seats to 150.

This order will also bring cheer to hundreds of students who aspire for a medical career as it increases the number of seats in various colleges.

“At a time when the world health organization is aiming to achieve a doctor-population ratio of 1:1000, India will only be able to achieve the same only in 2031 with the existing colleges and state of affairs. And it is estimated that there will be still a shortage of 9.54 lakh doctors till then,” justice Gambhir said.

According to WHO reports, India ranks 67th in the list of 133 developing countries with the doctor-population ratio at 1:1700 as compared to the world ratio which is 1.5:1000.

“Privatisation of medical education has become the need of the hour,” the order said, but cautioning that the “sudden spurt has no doubt contributed to the declining standards of medical education, with more money being pumped in by charging higher fees.”
Taking a nuanced view, the court agreed that there must be stringent conditions for monitoring the quality of medical education so that “the trust of the common man in the custodians of our health is rejuvenated and strengthened.”

Highlighting the poor health ratio in the country, the judge said, “With the share of government being less and the private colleges shouldering more responsibility, there is still approximately only 1 medical college per 38.41 lakh people — dismal figures which reflect the acute crisis in the country.”

The court called for a “balance, between the unprecedented institutional growth today (and) the skewed doctor-patient ratio,” and suggested a “solution” by reviewing the entire regulatory mechanism.

DNA, 5 October 2011

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