Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Health and HRD see eye to eye on medical education

The Ministry of Health will collaborate with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on the issue of accreditation of medical education institutions. The two ministries have been at odds over the control of medical education. The new draft of the National Council for Human Resource in Health (NCHRH) has proposed a subsidiary body, the National Committee for Accreditation, which will register and accredit medical colleges. In keeping with MHRD-piloted National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, the proposed National Committee for Accreditation will seek approval from the proposed authority.

Sources said the proposed committee will frame parameters and standards for accreditation, and then have these approved by the national authority proposed by the MHRD. It is likely that this committee, in turn, could set up further agencies for accreditation, which would operate within the parameters set out by the accreditation committee of NCHRH. The Ministry of Health has made it clear that even though the accreditation of medical education institutions would stick to the system laid out in the national authority proposed by the MHRD, this should not be seen as acquiescence on the issue of regulatory oversight.

Medical education is too complicated and important and therefore regulatory structures must have technical expertise to be able to take informed decisions. Also, the proposed regulatory body National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) vests the power of deciding about institutions to universities. Accreditation of medical institutions and academic content requires technical expertise. Once the institutions are found to be acceptable by the NCHRH, the institutions can approach universities for affiliation, a senior official said.

The issue of regulatory oversight still remains unresolved.The MHRD has argued that the task force which is preparing the framework for the NCHER is keen to bring medical education under its fold. MHRD officials have argued that till the task force submits its report to the minister, no final decision on the issue can be taken. Interestingly, even as the MHRD has decided to keep the issue of regulatory oversight on medical education in abeyance, the Prime Minister's Office has made it clear that medical education would fall within the purview of the NCHRH.

In keeping with this mandate, the Ministry of Health has reworked the NCHRH. In the proposed overarching body for the health sector, activities have been separated as much as possible. The proposed NCHRH Bill provides for setting up several subsidiary bodies each of which will independently perform one of the many essential tasks in governing medical education, all of which are currently performed by the Medical Council of India (MCI).

Source: The Economic Times, July 13, 2010 (Report by Urmi A. Goswami)

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