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Medical Council of India: The Rise and Fall

by Thilaka Ravi on  May 20, 2010 at 11:37 AM India Special   - G J E 4
The Ketan Desai-fuelled MCI scandal and the Ordinance signed by the President of India Pratibha Patil empowering the government to dissolve or reorganize the MCI have triggered debates regarding the establishment of an efficient medical regulatory body to carry out the functions hitherto executed by the Medical Council of India.

Established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933 (now repealed), the Medical Council of India geared up remarkably to meet the challenges of rapid development in medical education in India, post Independence. The new Indian Medical Act was enacted in 1956 and further modified in 1964, 1993 and 2001.

The Indian Medical Council's main objectives are to maintain uniform standards of medical education at the undergraduate and post graduate level, recommending the recognition/de-recognition of medical qualifications of medical institutions in India or abroad, maintaining a permanent registry of doctors with recognized medical qualifications and ensuring ethical practices in the medical profession.

Following the arrest of MCI President Ketan Desai on corruption charges and the President's Ordinance, the government has formed an interim Board of governors headed by Dr. S.K. Sarin, Dept. of Gastroenterology, G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi, as a stop gap measure to carry out the functions of the MCI.

MCI's Credibility Dips

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested MCI's President Ketan Desai, on charges of seeking a 2-crore bribe for granting recognition to a private medical college in Punjab. For Ketan Desai this is a repeat—he was convicted for corruption and removed from his office as MCI's President in 2001 when the Delhi High Court observed that the MCI was "a den of corruption." Highlighting the MCI's shortfall in another area, the Estimates Committee of 2005 has noted that the MCI has bungled the maintenance of the Indian Medical Register (IMR) resulting in a faulty list of medical practitioners in India after 1993.

Medical Education—Tug of War

The onus of overseeing medical education in India continues to be a bone of contention between the government of India's Health Ministry and Human Resource and Development (HRD) Ministry. In June last year, the President of India had announced that both the proposed National Commission for Higher Education (NCHER) and the National Council for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) would function under the purview of the Health Ministry. The recent draft of the (NCHER) Bill proposes to bring medical education in India under the purview of the Union Human Resource and Development Ministry. The Health Ministry however, is keen on retaining medical education under its wing— NCHRH.  

With private parties setting up medical colleges as business ventures and given the green signal by a corrupt medical council, the standards of medical education in India will be diluted with the system churning out substandard doctors who can 'buy' a medical degree. But dismantling an expert autonomous body like the MCI in haste for the sins of a few corrupt members is seen as an extreme move by many, including the Indian Medical Association (IMA) which has strongly opposed the government's decision to dissolve the MCI. The greater fear is that the medical regulatory body's responsibility in the hands of bureaucrats could make matters worse. According to experts, corrective measures, proper checks and balances within and outside the MCI, ensuring sincere, efficient and public-minded healthcare professionals are at the helm will restore dignity to the MCI and enable it to function in a clean, transparent and accountable manner.

MCI Crisis-What Next?

India has produced some of the most skilled doctors in the world and the current MCI crisis has to be resolved quickly and effectively to restore credibility to Indian medical education and practice in the eyes of the world. Despite the shame, the MCI crisis has finally made it imperative to overhaul the system that dictates one of the largest healthcare services in the world. Healthcare in India has huge gaps with shameful incidences of 'medical negligence' and rampant corruption hampering effective healthcare delivery to India's huge population.

The cloud over the medical system in India has come at a time when Medical tourism is picking up in India and attracting patients from around the world seeking relief from chronic ailments. Cost effective expert treatments in modern medicine and alternative therapies are the pride of India, in addition to world class hospitals equipped with medical experts and state of the art equipment and facilities for accurate diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and disorders. Hopefully, the meeting scheduled at the end of this month by the Health ministry and HRD ministry to set things right should bring a favorable decision to end the turmoil kicked off by Ketan Desai and his partners in crime.

While it is imminent that medical education in India will be de-linked from the Medical Council of India's purview, the fate of the once exemplary apex body for doctors and medical students in India now hangs in balance. After the Ketan Desai fiasco that tarnished the image of the Medical Council of India the one question that looms large is, "What next?"

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Source: Medindia
Thilaka Ravi/L
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can we still register our medical degrees with medical council of india
dr_gayatri Sunday, August 15, 2010
earlier medical council of india is in the hand of only some doctors now it is in the hand of the minister also the situation is same only the commission which they are eating alone now minister will also eat nothing is going to change its our atulya bharat
dr.vivek2009 Friday, July 23, 2010
Scrapping Medical council of India is move which will effect the furture of many matters related to Medical Profession Many politicians are corrupt but we cannot scrape parliament or assembly India is corrupted in many ways every profession many public holding persons are part of the game plan of this nation. Many of the Medical dental colleges collect lot of money to give the seats to dullest possible . The examination system is the real joke many times private colleges get better results than Government Medical colleges. Practicle examinations are a cake walk, It is all a known secret every one knows but no body talks where we start the correction with teacher ?, students? or Managements? Doctor
doctorhelpless Monday, July 12, 2010
This is a calculated move of some bureaucrats and politicians who are not well read or hate doctors. They cannot withstand the fine values nurtured by the medical teachers to their students. The medical council should be reconstituted on the pattern of G.M.C of UK where there are sub- division of undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing education. If central government wants its say then it should increase its representation from 8 to 30. A few changes are welcome but to put it under some other regulatory body will only dilute the standards of medicine. Most medical boards and medical councils never under another regulatory body.

Kashyap Rajesh IGMC Shimla

krajesh_shimla Thursday, May 20, 2010
What a contradiction!!! The M.C.I had advocated that other medical professions should be under other regulatory bodies other than their profession's bodies. The M.C.I never understood when it was said that it is foolish for them to be under another regulatory body which they could not manage themselves. Now the same medicos are going black and white over the fact that being under another professional regulatory body is not the norm elsewhere in the world.
kindrob Thursday, May 20, 2010
It is sad but expected and welcome move of the Government of India. I now hope that the government moves ahead and takes concrete steps to build a better infra-structure for the functioning of all medical professionals; not just M.B.B.S doctors, who think they constitute the medical professionals in India. There are a lot other professionals in the medical field that need to be upgraded and uplifted, which the M.C.I never allowed so far. All this is to be sorted out, so we have not only world class hospitals but also a world class medical field.
kindrob Thursday, May 20, 2010

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