QUESTION : What are various challenges and issues faced by medical education in India? In light of this critically examine the provisions of National Medical Bill, 2019.
Topic- A NO-WIN SITUATION
- JEE-NEET During Pandemic
WHY IN NEWS ?
- A pandemic and the resultant delay in commencing admission to professional courses have put the Union Education Ministry in an unenviable(unpleasant) position.
ABOUT NEET & JEE :
- The NEET is the only gateway for MBBS/BDS admissions in the country.
- JEE Main is for students aspiring to pursue undergraduate courses in top engineering institutes in India.
- JEE is not mandatory for State government-run and private institutions.
- Both JEE & NEET is conducted by National Testing Agency.
DILEMMAS FACED BY UNION EDUCATION MINISTRY :
- Sustaining a merit-based admission process (through conducting exams).
- Ensuring physical and emotional well-being of aspirants during COVID-19 times and thus the pressure of postponing exams.
- Limiting the academic disruption caused due to pandemic
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF CONDUCTING EXAMS :
- Support of Judiciary: From an academic perspective, the Supreme Court has observed that the career of students “cannot be put in peril for long”.
- Support of Parent/Students: A “silent majority” favours the exams as an overwhelming number of registered candidates have downloaded their admit cards.
- Support by Academics: Directors of several IITs have expressed concern that further delay could lead to a “zero academic year” and any quick alternative to the crucial exams will dilute the quality of education.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST CONDUCTING OF EXAMS :
- Fear of contracting COVID-19 from examination centres: The NEET will be conducted in 3,843 centres across 155 cities, whereas the number of applicants is about 15.97 lakh.
- Practical Challenges: With many States not resuming public transport services and hotels remaining closed, travel and accommodation for candidates from interior regions is a major challenge.
- Disproportionately impact Girls’ prospects of Higher Education: Social and cultural pressures are such that girls from villages and tier-3 towns are likely to face hurdles as travelling alone would not be encouraged under these unusual circumstances.
INDIA’S MEDICAL EDUCATION SCENARIO :
- At present, there are 542 Medical Collages across India, out of which 279 in Government and 263 are in Private sector.
- Karnataka has the highest 186 number of medical colleges
MEDICAL COUNCIL OF INDIA :
- The Medical Council of India was established under the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 to maintain minimum standards of medical education in the country.
- The main function of the Council is to make recommendations to the Central Government in matters of recognition of medical qualifications, determining the courses of study and examinations, etc.
- The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 replaced the current Medical Council of India (MCI) with National Medical Commission (NMC).
Medical Education as the building block of Health system :
- Medical education is the bedrock on which the needs of ‘human resources for health’, one of the major building blocks of any health system, are met.
- Today’s health professionals are required to have knowledge, skills, and professionalism to provide safe, effective, efficient, timely, and affordable care to people. They are required to:
o be proficient in handling disruptive technologies,
o understand the economics of healthcare,
o have the skills to work in and handle large and diverse teams,
o be ethical,
o demonstrate empathy, and
o be abreast of rapid developments in medicine.
PROBLEMS IN MEDICAL EDUCATION :
- Low Doctor-Patient ratio: India has one government doctor for every 11,528 people and one nurse for every 483 people, which is way below WHO recommended 1;1000.
- Backdated syllabus and teaching style: Regular breakthroughs take place in the medical field every day, but the medical studies syllabus in India is not updated accordingly.
- Lack of skilled teachers: Teachers for medical institutes are selected based on their degrees and not their clinical experience. Further, the lower salary fails to attract better talent as they go for private practice.
- Disparity in infrastructure across different states: Only four states – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu – account for about 1.3 lakh out of nearly 2.4 lakh medical seats across India.
- Lack of social accountability: Indian medical students do not receive training which instils in them social accountability as health practitioners.
- Problems with private medical colleges: A change in the law in the 1990s made it easy to open private schools and so, many such medical institutes cropped up in the country, funded by businessmen and politicians, who had no experience of running medical schools. It commercialised medical education to a great extent.
- Corruption in medical education: Fraudulent practices and rampant corruption such as fake degrees, bribes and donations, proxy faculties, etc. in the medical education system is a major problem.
SIGNIFICANCE OF NATIONAL MEDICAL BILL,2019 :
To tackle various issues and problems in medical education government has introduced National Medical Bill 2019. Bill seek to improve medical education in following ways:
- Bill seek to regulate medical education and practice in India leading to better medical standards.
- It focus on the issue Corruption in medical education through transparent appointment to the medical commission.
- Bill would help in reducing shortage of medical professionals by giving license to community health providers.
- It ensure ethical standards in the medical practice through Ethics board.
- It will rationalise fees in private medical colleges thereby making medical education more affordable.
- In India, the MCI has so far been operating independently. This gap can be bridged by the NMC.
- By introducing qualifying exams like NEET and NEXT, NMC can instil uniformity in the standard of competence and skills.
WAY FORWARD :
- The government must explore alternatives such as allowing States to conduct medical admissions based on Class XII Board marks using standard normalisation.
- NEET could be limited to central institutions.
- The examination slots could be staggered and the number of centres increased drastically.
- In addition to raising the standards of medical professionals, the system should innovate to meet the growing shortage of health professionals to serve ageing populations with lifestyle and lifetime ailments.
- It is only when the medical education improves that the health sector can improve as a whole.