Friday, May 14, 2010

Higher Education Bill: Experts want medical education included

Scope of the proposed National Council for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), the overarching regulator in higher education, could well be enhanced to include medical education. The Tribune has learnt that the taskforce appointed by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) to finalize the NCHER draft law is making all-out efforts to bring medical education under the ambit of the proposed Council. The Health Ministry is, however, resistant to the move and has sought greater discussions on the matter. In her May 10 letter to the HRD Ministry, Union Health Secretary Sujatha Rao sought a meeting on the issue and highlighted four key concerns of the Health Ministry in case medical education was to be regulated by the proposed Council. HRD Ministry sources confirmed receipt of the health ministry’s letter and said they would engage with them on the issue.

Meanwhile, Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav - who is also on the HRD Ministry-appointed taskforce finalising the NCHER draft law to accommodate concerns raised by stakeholders including states - today said the issue had not yet been settled as the health ministry had appointed its own taskforce for a separate law to regulate medical education. “We are trying our best to bring them together. Whether we succeed or not only time will tell,” Jadhav said, admitting that the NCHER law was based on recommendations that talked of education as a whole and did not make distinctions on the basis of streams.

The President had made a mention of NCHER draft law and another council for human resources in health in her joint address to both Houses of Parliament last year. Her speech talked of the establishment of the National Council for Higher Education as recommended by the Yashpal Committee and the National Knowledge Commission to bring in reform of regulatory institutions and another National Council for Human Resources in Health as an overarching regulatory body for the health sector to reform the current regulatory framework and enhance supply of skilled personnel. “So far as health goes, the Presidential speech only outlines a regulator for skilled personnel in health, which means doctors. It does not talk of medical education,” HRD ministry officials said, adding they are sticking to NKC recommendations for the NCHER draft bill.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sujatha Rao has said that the ministry was working on its own law to regulate medical education. With the two ministries engaged in a turf war, the picture will become clear only once the reworked NCHER draft Bill is made public later this week.

Source: The Tribune, May 13, 2010

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