July 12, 2008

MCI Turns Down Bihar Request to Up MBBS Seats

By Faizan Ahmad

PATNA: In a major jolt to the Bihar government move to bring in higher education reforms, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has turned down a proposal to increase seats in the MBBS course in the six medical colleges of the state.

It's like a double whammy with the MCI only recently rejecting a proposal to open three new medical colleges in the state.

Currently there are 390 seats in Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH), Nalanda Medical College Hospital (NMCH), Darbhanga Medical College Hospital (DMCH), Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital (JNMCH), Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College Hospital (ANMMCH) and Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH).

The state government had proposed to increase it to 700 and had sought permission to increase 50 seats each in five colleges and 60 in one.

However, the MCI, in its recommendation to the Union government against the proposal, pointed to various deficiencies in teaching faculties and clinical materials besides other infrastructural deficiencies. The deficiency in teaching faculty as reported by MCI is 41% in ANMCH, 35.5% in DMCH, 29.8% in SKMCH, 29% in JNMCH and 22.91% in PMCH.

Following this, the Union ministry of health and family welfare has sent a letter to the principals of the six medical colleges informing them that the ministry can consider the request to increase the seats only for the next academic year 2009-10.

"If you wish to pursue the matter, you are requested to take necessary action to rectify the deficiencies and forward the compliance report to this ministry for consideration for the next academic year 2009-10," the letter, signed by under secretary N Barik, said.

"It has also been decided that the institutions be directed to remove the deficiency of teaching faculty, residents, para-medical and nursing personnel, equipment and other infrastructure for existing intake within a period of one month and submit the compliance," the letter directed the principals.

Interestingly, the state health department was not aware about this shocking letter till Wednesday afternoon. State health secretary Deepak Kumar said, "We are waiting for a communication from the Central government."

He said the state government had requested for a Letter of Permission from the Centre but the MCI conducted a full-fledged inspection of the medical colleges for which we had not requested. "Normal MCI inspections are conducted in December," he said and added by December '08, the government will fill up the vacancies and this has been assured by the state health minister to the Union health minister.

He also said there has been no new appointment of teachers in medical colleges for the last 13 years and, as such, no promotion could be effected.

However, the Union health ministry's letter clearly mentioned, "As per the MCI Establishment of Medical College Regulation, 1999, for the academic year 2008-09, the last date for conducting inspections by MCI was June 15, 2008 and the last date for granting permission by the Central government is July 15, 2008." It also referred to various Supreme Court judgments directing the Central government and MCI to strictly adhere to the time schedule given in the MCI regulations.

State health minister Nandkishore Yadav told TOI the matter would be taken up with Union health minister A Ramadoss who is reaching here on Friday.

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