Azad non-committal on MCI recognition

MBBS students still in quandary

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: Uncertainty over MCI recognition to the MBBS course in NEIGRHIMS still looms large with Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, failing to make any commitment during his visit to the city on Tuesday.

The first batch of MBBS students at NEIGHRIMS has already completed the course but their degree is yet to be recognised.

Addressing a press conference after delivering the first oration lecture in memory of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at NEIGRHIMS on Tuesday, Azad said that MCI recognition for the MBBS course in NEIGRHIMS would be obtained in due course of time.

The Minister, however, failed to indicate as to when the MCI recognition would be accorded.

According to him, the MCI has laid separate criteria and guidelines for recognition of MBBS courses depending on the number of seats.

Azad further said that the criteria for MBBS courses in institutions having 50 seats would be different from those having 100 seats or more.

“With the infrastructure present in NEIGRHIMS, I am sure there would not be a problem in getting the MCI recognition for the MBBS course which the Institute is offering,” he said.

The Minister, however, said that the top priority for the Institute is to get the full strength of faculties to live to its tag of being a ‘centre of excellence’.

“This problem of shortage of faculties has been lingering for the past many years. The basic reason for which doctors do not want to come to NEIGRHIMS is that it is situated in a far off place,” Azad said.

Pointing out the Centre was aware of this problem he said that the Union Government is taking various steps to improve the situation.

Stating that one of the major factors is the transportation problem which is preventing doctors to come to work in NEIGRHIMS, he said that the Government is coming up with the four-lane Shillong-Guwahati highway to improve the travelling experience.

He also said that the Government is trying to improve aerial transportation with the expansion of the Umroi Airport.

“As the expansion of the Airport would take more time, the Union Ministry has taken some major decisions to encourage doctors to work in NEIGRHIMS,” Azad said, adding that his Ministry has taken a call to provide packages and salaries for the doctors in NEIGRHIMS at par with that of AIIMS.

“We have also decided to extend the retirement age equivalent with that of AIIMS from 60 to 65 years,” Azad said.

Despite the efforts been taken to motivate doctors to come and work in this part of the country, Azad said that special care has been taken to ensure that there is no compromise in the ‘quality’.

Informing that in the recent recruitment drive they have received around 200 applications from doctors across the country, Azad said that only 29 doctors were recruited 69 vacant posts.

“This clearly shows that that only the best people have been appointed to work in the Institute,” the Minister said.

He also informed that the Centre has sanctioned Rs 280 crore for setting up of a Medical College, Nursing College and Regional Cancer Institute at NEIGRIHMS.

“The institute was originally conceptualized with only post graduate classes and not undergraduate course. But later it was thought that MBBS and Nursing courses should be also introduced in order to cater to the needs of the Northeast region,” Azad said. Azad also informed that a total amount of Rs 500 crore has been allocated to the Institute in the past four years.

With the region suffering from the problem of human resources deficit including doctors, nurses and paramedics, Azad informed that the total infrastructure that Northeast has in the health sector including district hospitals, community health centres, primary health centres and sub centres stands at 5,970.

He also said that total fund released for the Northeast states in the past seven years was Rs 9,214 crore out of which the total expenditure was around Rs 7,878 crore.

To overcome the shortage of ANMs and GNMs, Azad informed that his Ministry has sanctioned 269 nursing schools in the country out of which 60 schools were provisioned for the Northeast but the state governments have accepted only 39 schools due to certain difficulties especially acute shortage of faculty.

He further informed that 72 new medical colleges have come up in the country in the past four years and between 22 and 30 new colleges will come up in the coming years.

According to Azad, by June this year, the MBBS seats will increase from 33,000 to around 45,000 seats and the number of post graduate medical seats will rise from 13,000 to 22,000.

“Creation of infrastructure in the health sector is not a problem but the main difficulty we are facing is the lack of doctors and faculty to teach in medical colleges and nursing schools. Unless we have doctors, we will not be able to provide health care even if we have the infrastructure,” Azad asserted.

Earlier, the Union Health Minister in the presence of Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma, former Union Minister of State Vincent H Pala and State Health Minister AL Hek unveiled the statute of former Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi on the NEIGRHIMS premises.