Panel recommends ways to regulate medical education

2015-01-07

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A high-level government committee has recommended topography, balanced development and population dynamics as major criteria for allowing medical colleges to operate in different parts of the country. 

In its report submitted to the Ministry of Education, the eight-member committee formed to recommend national standards for medical colleges also asked MoE to seek letter of intent only after obtaining recommendation from a consortium that will evaluate the required criteria. 

According to the report, the consortium will be represented by universities, Ministry of Education, Ministry for Health and Population and Nepal Medical Council. The consortium will also make necessary recommendations for varsity affiliation. 

The panel set up by the Cabinet in February to address the demands put forth by Dr Govinda KC and Nepal Medical Association has painted a grim picture of country’s medical education after studying numerous problems ranging from policy to quality issues. 

The report, which is divided into three themes - national policy and standards; affiliation; and quality — has suggested a 56-point solution to 39 problems identified by the team. 

“The report clearly indicates that new medical colleges should be opened only outside Kathmandu Valley so as to benefit the underprivileged masses in far-flung areas,” Chairman of Nepal Medical Council Dr Damodar Gajurel said. According to NMC, there are 21 colleges offering MBBS and BDS courses. 

Pointing out the unfriendly investment scenario, the report suggested that investors be encouraged to ensure inter-agency coordination and eliminate criteria disparities in medical education. “Integrated tools and rating scale must be developed to end criteria disparities,” it said. 

“There is need to scientifically review the existing fee structure to make medical education affordable to all,” the report said highlighting the need to develop Nepal as a centre-point for medical studies to attract more foreign students. 

It also suggested proper allocation of scholarships and reservation schemes for the poor and marginalised by asking local governments and NGOs to support downtrodden communities so that they may be able to avail medical education. 

“Health workers who serve the rural communities should be given a chance to continue higher education on merit basis,” the report said, adding that professional development is needed to ensure quality medical services. 

The report also sought strict implementation of bedside teaching rule. “Along with written exams, NMC must conduct a ‘skill test’ before issuing licence to new medical practitioners, including doctors,” it added. It also advised revision of curricula prioritising community-based teaching-learning activities. 

Government authorities must implement national policy and standards to ensure smooth functioning of medical colleges, Professor Rakesh Prasad Shrivastav, Dean at the Institute of Medicine, said. According to him, the team has proposed a strong monitoring and evaluation mechanism to oversee medical colleges; whether they meet the required guidelines on quality, infrastructure and human resources, among others. 

Source; The Himalayantimes. Published in 15 June, 2014

Author: Rajan Pokhrel