Betraying the oath: the rot in India's medical education system

Posted On Monday, 27 February 2017 10:51

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The Medical Council of India recently barred 32 colleges across the country. Vidya Krishnan reconstructs how one of those, a Bhopal institute, marshalled doctors on hire, fake patients and life-saving equipment on rent for inspection day

The coffee is bad and the desserts are drier than you’d expect, but the Amer Bakery Hut is nonetheless one of Bhopal’s popular haunts. Sudhir Singh (name changed) has strategically taken a table at the far end that faces the door opening to the kitchen. No one is likely to spot him there, and he’s not even from Bhopal, but Singh is fidgety, looking around every few minutes to check on other patrons before leaning forward to speak in hushed tones.

A professor at a medical college affiliated to a Raipur university, Singh was in town in time for an inspection by the Medical Council of India (MCI), the regulatory body for medical education in India. On the MCI team’s inspection list were the RKDF Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, and the Advanced Institute of Medical Science and Research Centre which is on the outskirts of Bhopal. Both have been debarred.

The night before this January 11 meeting at the cafe, Singh had called saying “ghost professors”, a euphemism for academics who materialise at inspections conducted by the MCI for money, had checked into the Rajhans hotel. “Shehar mein sabko pata hai inspection week chal raha hai (Everyone in the city knows it’s inspection week),” he said by way of explaining him being so guarded. After all, the Raipur professor claims to have been among those approached to pose as Advanced Institute faculty when the MCI team came calling.

Every medical college is associated with a ‘teaching hospital’ — where patients are admitted and students learn while treating them. A medical college must pass a benchmark in terms of infrastructure, faculty strength and patient inflow at the hospital to be recognised by the MCI, upon which it admits a prescribed number of students. The Advanced Institute had sought recognition to enrol 150 students and start a teaching hospital. On January 13, 2017, a damning report on ‘ghost’ doctors, fake patients, life-saving equipment on loan by dubious vendors in 32 medical colleges across India, authored by the MCI, was submitted to the Health Ministry. The report, which runs into 215 pages, blows the lid off a well-oiled operation which kicks in almost as soon as an entrepreneur dreams of opening a private medical college. The two Bhopal colleges figure among the blacklisted 32.

News source: The Hindu

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