June 22, 2008

State Plan to Open New Medical Colleges in Limbo

By Faizan Ahmad

PATNA: Bihar's plan to open three new medical colleges has been in limbo. Reason: the state government bypassed the criteria for the same and ignored even the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The state government had planned to open three new medical colleges at Pawapuri, Madhepura and Bettiah. But instead of approaching MCI, it went straight to the Union health ministry.

"For opening a new medical college, there are some criteria. It should have a campus of 25 acres and at least 300-bed hospital should exist in running condition besides the campus should have an adequate infrastructure," said former national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Dr Ajay Kumar.

He said a number of present and past members of MCI are available in Bihar and the government should have consulted them before making its proposal. Dr Kumar himself had been MCI's executive body member for five years. He alleged that the state government acted in haste perhaps after having been misled by babus in the health department.

"As per the MCI Regulation of 1999, it is only at the recommendation of MCI, that the government of India issues an order to open a new medical college. It is MCI which sends its team for inspection and seeks report which it forwards to the Union health ministry."

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, however, denied that the proposal to open new medical colleges had been rejected. "This has to be done by the Union government and not by MCI. A team of the health ministry has already visited the state for inspection," he said.

State health minister Nand Kishore Yadav said, "When we did not approach MCI, where is the question of rejection of our proposal? The Central team came and its recommendation is awaited."

The central team, in fact, has visited the state twice. Sources said that when MCI refused to inspect the three proposed sites knowing well that none of them fulfils the criteria, the state health department officials somehow managed to approach Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss through Jagdish Prasad who is the superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital.

"That was the reason that a team of six doctors, all drawn from Safdarjung Hospital, came here for inspection. But even they could not dare make any recommendation bypassing the regulation," revealed a former member of MCI on condition of anonymity. He added that again another team headed by Jagdish Prasad came here last Monday but that too did not make a recommendation. Yadav, however, told TOI that at Pawapuri, Bettiah and Madhepura, the required land has been acquired and the district hospitals have been upgraded there. Apart from the existing staff, doctors have been transferred there. He said, "We are not making empty promises. We hope all the three new medical colleges will come up by next year."

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