New Delhi: Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya has held a meeting with representatives of 62 prominent private hospitals/chains, urging them to start undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses. The move is aimed at stemming the tide of Indian students travelling abroad to study medicine.
Sources in the health ministry say it’s hoped that about 1,500 additional medical seats will become available this year through the private hospital route.
“I recently held a meeting with 62 private hospitals including Lilavati, Amrita Hospital, Medanta, Breach Candy and Kokilaben, urging them to start undergraduate medical courses. I am hopeful that at least 15-20 of them will start with some seats this year. I am personally in favour of training our doctors here in India rather than in a foreign country,” Mandaviya told reporters Monday.
The health ministry had in 2016 scrapped a nonprofit clause in the eligibility rules for medical colleges in a bid to encourage private hospitals to enter the field of medical education. However even after the changes were made, the uptake has remained minimal. While prominent chains such as Apollo have postgraduate courses in select specialities, they’ve refrained from venturing into the undergraduate space.
Hopes of affordability
According to health ministry officials, hospitals have been asked to keep affordability in mind when starting the programmes, and a strict process of weeding out substandard institutes will be put in place to ensure that quality is maintained.
“Private hospitals have some of the best infrastructure, but their presence in medical education is very limited. We are trying to change that,” said an official.
Bringing in private hospitals to impart medical education has been a policy priority for some years, but the urgency of the matter was reinforced in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when hundreds of Indian medical students studying abroad were left in the lurch.
Current rules require Indians who’ve studied medicine abroad to pass an examination — the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination or FMGE, which has had a poor pass rate — in order to be eligible to practise medicine in this country. Only those who have medical degrees from the US, the UK, New Zealand, Australia or Canada are exempt from this.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
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