Friday, June 24, 2016

NITI Aayog recommends replacing MCI with medical education commission

The Medical Council of India, often in the news for controversial approvals and corruption, is set to be replaced by a medical education commission that will have three independent wings to oversee curriculum, accreditation of colleges and medical ethics.

The new commission could be run by eminent persons from the medical field, who will be allowed to continue their professional commitments as the Niti Aayog panel that framed the guidelines felt this would ensure a wider talent pool. 

The scandal-hit MCI will be a thing of past as the panel, headed by Niti Aayog chairperson Arvind Panagariya, has sought a detailed overhaul of the medical education regulator that aims to bridge shortages of skilled health workers and address a major hurdle in meeting growing quality healthcare needs. 

The proposed commission will be an umbrella organisation at the top with a mandate to regulate and monitor medical education and practices and the division of responsibilities is intended to ensure more responsive functioning. "The plan is to totally disband MCI and set up an entirely new entity," said a source.

PG Times had on March 28 reported that during a health sector review, PM Narendra Modi and the health ministry had discussed the option of scrapping the MCI, which has been shrouded in controversy in recent years, altogether. Keen to reform the medical education sector and make the healthcare system deliver, the government set up a three-member committee to prepare a blueprint to revamp the current set-up. The committee has PM's additional principal secretary P K Mishra, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant as members, besides Panagariya. 

MCI's credibility hit an alltime low in 2010 when its former president Ketan Desai was arrested on April 22 by CBI along with some others in a Rs 2 crore bribery case. The money was allegedly intended to grant permission to a college in Patiala to enrol students.

Sources said the committee met eminent medical experts and representatives of MCI and is due to formally submit its report soon. A source said the posts of members and heads of the panel and three autonomous bodies would also be open for experts of the field.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

30 extra berths in Bengal med PG, but without MCI nod

 West Bengal University of Health Sciences plans to admit 30 additional students for two postgraduate courses - Diploma in Gynaecology and Obstetrics (DGO) and Diploma in Child Health (DCH). However, these additional seats are not recognized by the Medical Council of India (MCI).Chittaranjan Seva Sadan will get 10 extra students each in the DGO and DCH courses, while the DCH course in B C Roy Hospital with get the remaining 10.

PG Times had reported on June 18 that as many as 35 postgraduate medical seats, including MD and MS seats, are lying vacant this year because students who had initially taken admission had switched to institutes outside Bengal. Thus this year there is going to be a serious crisis of post graduate trainees in the state's teaching hospitals, as these 35 seats will be vacant. Now to fill up the vacancy in the teaching hospitals WBUHS has decided to go for additional 10 seats of DGO and 20 additional seats of DCH.

WBUHS controller of examinations K P Sinha said that the aim is to have enough specialist doctors, as both gynaecologists and paediatricians are of much demand in the state. He said that those who passed the West Bengal Post Graduate Medical Admission Test 2016 are eligible for admission to these seats. "Those qualifying from these seats can get state jobs and can practice in Bengal as specialists, even though their course is not recognized by MCI. We will even provide them with stipendEven we will be providing stipends to the students who will be undergoing these courses under these additional seats." He said that these DGO and DCH seats were earlier there but were withdrawn. Now WBUHS is again introducing them.

ABVP medical chapter convenor Dr Indranil Khan, however, asked: "What will be the fate of doctors who study in non-recognized seats? If they admit students in these seats, is there any need of quality control by MCI?"

Dr Nirmal Maji, chairman of assembly standing committee on health, said that he will pursue the matter with MCI to get clearance for these seats.

NEET-PG FAQs answered by NBE director

Q1) Will the state of Andhra Pradesh be contributing its medical PG seats to central pool and can the medical graduates of Andhra Pradesh be allowed to take seats outside Andhra Pradesh?
State of Andhra Pradesh has a special status (continued forward after bifurcation of states of Andhra and Telangana) wherein the state(s) do not contribute to the All India Quota 50% pool and the medical graduates of the State accordingly cannot participate in the All India Quota.

Q2) Is there state quota in NEET-PG?
NEET-PG is a common qualifying and ranking examination.  Each owner of the seat whether state quota or private universities or institutions shall continue to prepare their merit lit based on the eligibility criteria.  The existing state quota remains undisturbed.

Q3) Please confirm whether while counseling, private institutes shall disclose their course fees?
It is obligatory for all institutions to disclose their course fees.

Q4)Will there be any management seats in NEET counseling?
As per the present regulation governing the admission to UG /PG seats there is no change in the management seats.

Q5) Will All India Quota Pool remain the same or increased?
The All India Quota (Pool) for UG stands at 15% of seats owned by institutions of central /state governments and 50% in case of PG seats.

Q6) How NEET super specialty is going to happen this year, as many states have already announced about the dates of super specialty entrance exam this year?
The details of NEET-SS shall be announced in due course and the same shall be applicable for admissions to 2017 session.

Q7) How many additional marks will be given to PG aspirants who have served in rural areas?
The details in this regard shall be notified by the respective State Governments within the overall parameters prescribed by  Government of India (MoHFW).

Q8)What about the super specialty NEET-SS 2016? When it will be conducted?
Refer Q. No. 6

Q9) Sir, what about the fees regulation?? Are the private colleges free to charge as their own or will there be concession for the students qualifying NEET?
There is a state level Committee formulated with representatives of State Governments and a former Judge of High Court as the Chairman of the Committee. The fee for the self financing (Private institutions) is fixed by this Committee and the state level committees are the appropriate authorities to prescribe a fee schedule.

Q10)What about Jammu and Kashmir CET?
State of Jammu & Kashmir has a special status wherein the state(s) do not contribute to the All India Quota 50% pool and the medical graduates of the State accordingly cannot participate in the All India Quota.  However, the state is covered under ambit of NEET.

Q11) What about service candidate in TN as students joined service for the sole purpose of service quota?
There is no change in the service quota or rights of any State to crack or modify service quota and the same remains as such.

Q12) Some private colleges have already declared their super specialty exam dates and the forms have been filled? What about those exams then?
Same as Q. No.8

Q13) What about Christian Medical College, Vellore? Does it get included under NEET or not?
Yes, it is obligatory for all medical colleges including CMC, Vellore to get covered by National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.

Q14) Sir kindly clear our confusion NEET PG 2017-18 exam shall conducted in which month? Who shall conduct AIIMS or NBE board? Will it be a single day exam/ Single paper or multiple day exam / multiple questions paper?
The NEET-PG for 2017 shall be conducted by National Board of Examinations.  The details for this exam shall be announced very shortly.  The exam shall be held as a CBT in December 2016.

Q15) What is the status of reservation in NEET? Will there be a minimum (genuine) qualifying marks for reservation category or will there be no minimum mark limit?
The minimum qualifying marks for the various categories shall be as per the regulations applicable.  The scheme of reservations for various categories shall also remain as such in compliance with constitutional provisions.

Q16) Will there be a centralized counseling for PG seats of private and deemed university or students will have to apply again to these counseling bodies to come in there merit list?
The details of the counseling for various categories of seats shall be announced by the respective State Governments /private or deemed universities /institutions and further details in this regard shall be published by the respective authorities.

Q17) Will the interns of 2016 eligible for the NEET-PG which was going to be conducted in month of Dec?
Candidates pursuing internship in 2016 shall be eligible for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test  for entry to 2017 session.  No candidate will be adversely effected.

Q18) What about NEET-MDS conducting authority? NBE or AIIMS? AIIMS used to conduct AIPGDE with negative mark. Please update.
The NEET –MDS shall be conducted by National Board of Examinations.  The scheme and details in this regard shall be announced very shortly.

Q19) Sir will NIMHANS be included under NEET?
NIMHANS is a statutory institution and created by an act of central legislature.  While it is not obligatory for NIMHANS to participate in National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, it is optional for NIMHANS to participate in NEET – PG/SS.

Q20)What will be the status of DNB-CET?
It is likely that DNB admissions shall be through NEET-PG for January session and there may be no DNB-CET.

NEET is a much-needed reform in medical education — Dr Bipin Batra

Prof (Dr) Bipin Batra is an eminent radiologist and executive director of the National Board of Examinations (NBE), the body entrusted with conducting the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to postgraduate courses in medical and dental colleges across the country. In an exclusive interview, Dr Batra talks about NBE, DNB and NEET.

We know you as executive director of the National Board of Examinations. Please tell us about the path that led you here and your experience along the way.
I am a radiologist with passion for education, excellence and quest for learning. I have been fortunate to work with the doyens in the field of radiology, medical education, student assessment, accreditation and public health. Each of these leaders has left a lasting impression on my abilities to be a physician with passion for care, compassion, manage change for good and innovate for the betterment of medical education ultimately leading to improved health outcomes.
I am glad to have planned, executed and steered some of the complex reforms as NEET, computer-based testing, competency-based assessments, single window admissions for PG residency and introduction of more than 15 new programmes.

For someone not very familiar with the National Board of Examinations, how would you introduce it? What all exams does the board take charge of?
NBE today is one of the largest educational bodies dealing with complete cycle of postgraduate medical education. Starting from conducting the entry examination, counselling, formative assessments, thesis-research, exit examinations and institutional accreditation are being conducted by NBE.
NBE conducts major entrance tests such as NEET Medical PG, NEET Dental PG, NEET Super Speciality, DNB CET (Diplomate of National Board – Centralized Entrance Test), PDCET (DNB Post Diploma CET) and CETSS (DNB CET Super Specialty). Besides, NBE also conducts the licensing exam as the FMGE (Foreign Medical Graduates Examination). The DNB exit test or the final exam is the largest national exam in this part of the world for the assessment of clinical competencies.

Again for the beginners, please tell us about your team, panel etc. Who are all involved in preparing questions, what do they expect from a candidate etc?
For every exam we have a different panel of faculty who are involved in preparation of questions. The expectation from examinees varies from exam to exam, say for licensing exams, it’s more of an inclusive test designed to qualify candidates who possess minimum basic knowledge in the syllabus prescribed.
For the competitive tests such as NEET or AIPGMEE (All India Post Graduate Medical Entrance Examination), the test is designed to differentiate between the knowledge levels of examinees and rank them. The exit exams are designed for the assessment of knowledge, skills and competencies required to practice the specialty independently.

How DNB programmes are different from other PG courses like MD/MS? Also, are there any programmes to orient the medical students to various branches so that they make an informed decision about their speciality?
NBE offers courses at two levels — one after the MBBS i.e. at the postgraduate level and second at the subspecialty level, after basic PG DNB or MD/MS. While, DNB and MD/MS courses are fundamentally structured on the same lines, the DNB programme is tailored to produce specialists with proven competence and readiness to serve the healthcare system at the end of training.
The introduction of a programme to orient the young MBBS graduates is necessary to help them identify the speciality and career pathway of choice. With DNB courses in 35 plus broad specialties, 17 super and 12 sub-specialty areas, the aspiring candidates have a lot of choices to make.

Let’s get to the hot topic of these days, what’s NEET? What’s happening with it? Tell us about both UG and PG NEET.
The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test was introduced by way of amendments to the regulations governing the UG and PG programmes notified by the Medical Council of India (MCI) with the prior approval of the Government of India in the year 2011-12. NEET as a part of the UG and PG regulations is a subordinate legislative process executed by the Government of India by way of an amendment to the Indian Medical Council Act duly promulgated by way of an ordinance under the Constitution. The President of India introduced NEET as a part of the Indian Medical Council Act by way of introduction of Section 10D to the Indian Medical Council Act and Section 10D to the Dentist Act.
The introduction of NEET as an entry examination by way of amendment to the Indian Medical Council Act and Dentist Act granted the statutory status to NEET, making it law of the land. With such a move there are no exceptions and extensions on the applicability of NEET, it is now universal across all institutions.
NEET-UG is for entry to the MBBS and BDS courses at the graduate level. NEET-PG is for entry to the postgraduate (MD/MS) courses whereas NEET-PG (MDS) is for entry to graduate level dental courses. NEET-SS is for entry to Super Specialty courses i.e. DM/MCh.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of NEET and how can it be better implemented?
The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test is a much-needed reform for improving the overall general standard of medical education in the country. Most importantly a single reliable examination could help restore the faith of the society with medical graduates and quality of doctors.
There are many advantages of NEET — the first and foremost being the one country one examination whether it is UG, PG or Super Specialty courses, high level of structuring and its consequential impact on the curriculum for the qualifying examination shall improve the level of teaching and learning both in the medical colleges as well as at the student level.
NEET has to be coupled with robust admissions framework. While the government institutions have various constitutional rules, responsibilities and legal obligations to discharge the regulatory pathways, guidelines must be framed for private medical and dental institutions in continuation of NEET so as to promote merit and excellence in admissions.
The deemed universities/institutions shall have to follow the regulations in letter and spirit in this regard.

What would you tell the students who prepare for these exams — learn and understand your subject or train yourselves to attend the questions? What do you think is more important to evaluate?
The students should focus on enhancing their knowledge and analytical skill framework. While many mechanisms may exist outside the traditional medical colleges that allure the students to train themselves in the art of attempting the questions, the fundamental assimilation of knowledge and application of analytical skills to problem solving in modern medicine is the key that shall help the students throughout their life and not just for examinations alone.
The evaluation of students through entrance examinations should be based on their capability to synthesize knowledge into analytical thought process and action.

What’s your opinion on doctors wasting their fruitful years in preparing for entrance examinations for getting into a speciality of their choice?
It is unfortunate that in our country the capacity for PG and sub-specialty education has not expanded compared to the expansion in the graduate medical education space leading to a situation wherein successive batches of medical graduates spend their time preparing for PG entrance examinations. The lack of adequate career pathways on the basis of graduate qualification alone is another contributory factor. The eco-system of medical jobs and employment needs to create a respectable place for plain medical graduates or alternatively the number of PG seats should be enhanced so as to allay the anxiety of medical graduates.

What according to you can help in the betterment of medical colleges and courses in India?
We have to utilize the entire healthcare delivery chain from primary healthcare centres to secondary and tertiary healthcare sector even so-called non-teaching domains and service/practice based hospitals to facilitate high level of skill and capacity building for medical courses in India.
Some of the private medical colleges continuously face the challenge of depleting clinical material and are not able to do justice in terms of their training. We have to adopt the resources of clinical material by innovative means such as community-based education in order to enhance the throughput as well as make our graduates ready to serve the society upon completion of their academic trainings.

It’s apparent that there’s a lot of money playing in UG and PG medical admissions, what’s your opinion on it? How can we prevent it and make medical college admissions more transparent and just?
It is an undisputed fact that the cost of medical education has risen exponentially in the past two decades. The absence of any proactive legislative and regulatory action to curb the menace of capitation fee has made the cost and access to education beyond the reach of aspiring candidates from average families.
The multiplicity of entrance examinations and absence of any standardized mechanism that could verify the claims of these entrance examinations conducted by private universities made the admission process system gullible for capitation fee.
While the law provides for management quota which is a small fraction of total seats, the system must ensure enough checks and balances so as to ensure that the admissions take place on the basis of merit only.
The introduction of NEET is one such development that shall go a long way in controlling this menace. The capping of fees at private or self-financed medical institutions by statutory pathway is another mechanism for addressing this problem.

What’s your message to our readers, young doctors, aspiring doctors and medical students?

I would like to congratulate the young and aspiring doctors, the medical students for making medicine as a career of their choice. A career in medicine is long and requires tremendous hard work but remains very fulfilling, rewarding and prestigious. The young doctors have a lot of potential to take the modern science closely to the people and at the same time contribute towards nation building in an effective manner.

Govt stress on preventing diabetes, fighting cancer

Concerned over the rising cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, diabetes and even mental disorders in India, the health ministry has kick-started some key initiatives to promote preventive care to arrest the trend.

"Prevention of diseases will always remain in the forefront, whether for communicable or non-communicable diseases, and awareness regarding a balanced lifestyle and healthy living is a crucial pillar in combating non-communicable diseases," health minister JP Nadda said, launching the initiatives.

The programmes include detailed guidelines for screening of such diseases like cancer, diabetes and hypertension. The ministry has also launched a dedicated awareness campaign to educate people about preventive measures and benefits of exercise, healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) assessment, an estimated 60 per cent of all deaths in India are due to non-communicable diseases. Cardiovascular diseases alone account for 26% of the total mortality, while chronic respiratory diseases lead to 13 per cent of deaths. Cancer and diabetes, incidences of which are rapidly increasing in India, accounted for 7 per cent and 2 per cent of mortality respectively in 2014.

Besides, mental helth conditions in India, including depression and schizophrenia, also contribute heavily to NCD burden. Estimates suggest that over 20 million or two crore Indians suffer from mental health conditions. Nadda said there is an urgent need for paying attention to the "preventive aspects" of NCDs.

Emphasising the need for creating wide awareness among people regarding healthy living, Nadda recommended yoga as an integral intervention for prevention and management of such diseases. He said yoga and knowledge in AYUSH system of medicine can be of great help in not only preventing but also controlling non-communicable diseases.

Recently, the health ministry had also drawn an overarching National Multi-Sectoral Action Plan with an aim to reduce premature deaths from cancer, diabetes and heart diseases by 25 per cent by 2025. The ministry also launched a telephony network called M-Diabetes. Under the initiative, with a missed call to 011-22901701 the caller can get more information on diabetes and how to prevent and manage it.

One can also log on to for more information. Besides, special training manuals for different levels of health workers who are engaged in NCD prevention and control, and survey of risk factors for NCDs were launched to generate prospective national level estimates.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Push for yoga

The discipline needs to be promoted as a non-sectarian wellness initiative

Marking the second International Yoga Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done well to highlight the non-sectarian character of yoga. Emphasising that yoga wasn’t religious in nature, he asserted that the traditional practice was even meant for atheists. Moreover, he described yoga as an instrument that provided health assurance with zero spending. A mass movement that promotes yoga can be one way of following the dictum that prevention of ill health is better than cure. The discipline can and should be used to tackle lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
Promoting yoga as a wellness discipline rather than as a religious practice is the key to popularising it even more, even if it leaves Hindutva proponents dissastisfied. There’s no denying that yoga has spread far and wide across the globe. This is precisely why 177 countries had supported the UN resolution proclaiming June 21 as International Day of Yoga. But in order to sustain this momentum yoga can’t be reduced to a ritualistic practice. India and WHO have recently signed an agreement to integrate yoga into allopathic medicine and primary health services. Many more such initiatives need to be facilitated.
At the national level, yoga can be a tool to promote physical well-being in schools and colleges. This in turn can help the country save crores of rupees that are lost to early onset of illnesses among people. But yoga cannot become a mass movement if any of it is made mandatory and forcibly pushed down the throats of people, schools or colleges. Not only will it be reduced to an empty and meaningless ritual, yoga should only be taught by trained practitioners and under proper supervision, else yogic asanas can lead to injuries.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Doctors on board for NUJS medico-legal course

The National University of Juridical sciences (NUJS), in a first in the country, is all set to start a course to address medico-legal issues, which are largely a grey area at present. Legal experts and doctors will teach in the course that will be conducted jointly with the Dillons Kidney Foundation, a philanthropic platform for doctors. 

The one-year course - Postgraduate Diploma in Public Healthcare and Medical Laws - will start from July. While both theory and practical classes will be held according to set modules on the NUJS campus, a lot of study material is also being prepared on which students have to work and do their own research. The modules have jointly been prepared by NUJS faculty, selected faculty from the National Law School, Bangalore, and top doctors from a range of fields from the city.

The National Law School Bangalore and Symbiosis are two other institutions have something similar but the NUJS course is more inclusive. "We have gone a step further and included doctors in framing of the course and imparting it so as to make the course complete. This is the first time in the country that legal and medical experts have joined hands to run a course," explained NUJS vice-chancellor Ishwar Bhat.

Among the doctors who have joined hands are vascular surgeon Krishnendu Mukherjee, neurosurgeon Sandip Chatterjee, infertility expert Gautam Khastagir and Institute of Health and Family Welfare director Krishnangshu Roy.

"Times have changed and today India debates on issues like stem cell research and surrogacy. There are written laws in some cases while in others Supreme Court judgments are taken into consideration. Moreover, there is an international convergence in the intellectual domain of public health, medical ethics and laws," reasoned Mukherjee.