All health-related research to come under the purview of the NCHER

The expert group of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the task force of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) on Tuesday broadly agreed to settle their turf war over the jurisdiction of medical education.

The National Commission for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) will get to lay down the minimum standards of medical education, while all health-related research will come under the purview of the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), promoted by the HRD Ministry.

However, universities will also be free to have more exacting higher standards for which they will deal with the NCHER.

The NCHRH and the NCHER draft Bills — proposed as regulatory bodies — have been pending for the past several months as the two ministries were involved in a tussle over the jurisdiction of medical education.

The Health and Family Welfare Ministry refused to give up medical education for inclusion under the NCHER on the grounds that it was linked to health services, while the NCHER said that since all education was governed by the university system and there were multidisciplinary areas of research, all education should come under one regulator.

The war of words was so intense that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had to intervene and ask the ministries to work out a mechanism that would link the two regulatory bodies and complement each other instead of contradicting them.

T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary to the PMO, called both sides and asked them to work out some kind of an arrangement. HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also spoke to sort out the matter amicably.

As per the agreement, the NCHER will lay down guidelines for research to bring in uniformity. All research proposals, including that of health, will be guided and prioritised by the Board for Research Promotion and Innovation, under the NCHER, without prejudice to other funding agencies like the Indian Council of Medical Research, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and other institutions.

The Board for Research Promotion and Innovation will also have representatives from other ministries involved in research.

The two Bills will now be amended to accommodate the agreement and then circulated for comments from the other ministries concerned before these are placed in the Cabinet for clearance.