Principles of social accountability should be incorporated in the regulation and accreditation process in medical education to ensure that medical colleges are involved in service, training and research in their respective local communities. This was one of the key recommendations made at the ‘National Conference on Health Professions Education (NCHPE) 2011,' organised by the Medical Education Unit of the Christian Medical College in Vellore recently.

The conference, which brought together policy makers, institutions offering medical education and health care providers, sought to strengthen the inter-professional linkages among doctors, nurses, dentists and allied health professionals.

After deliberation on a host of issues pertaining to health care, experts recommended that a new Act for the NCHRH explicitly include a mandate to align education in the health professions to the health conditions and needs of the country.

Among the recommendations made by experts at the conference were a proposal to include aptitude tests in the admission process and that the students be preferentially selected from within the community. “Medical colleges should be required to have formal and effective linkages with the local district hospital, Taluk hospital and primary health centre and also be responsible for the health of a defined population.

The colleges should train multi-competent family physicians, equipping them to provide primary and secondary level health care. A period of compulsory rural service should be required of all medical graduates to meet health care deficiencies, the recommendations added.

Each medical college should identify common health problems in the local community and define its research priorities in relation to these. A mechanism for continuing education programmes for those who work in rural and underserved areas should be developed.

The medical education community including the Medical Council of India, the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare and Human Resources, Medical Colleges and faculty should be responsible for ensuring that medical education is socially accountable towards improving health and health care provision for the people of country, participants said.