With uncertainty continuing over the jurisdiction of medical education, the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare and Human Resource Development on Tuesday made a beginning towards sorting out the issue by deciding to study the drafts of the two proposed regulatory bodies — the National Council for Human Resource in Health (NCHRH) and the National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER).
The members of the two proposed overarching regulatory bodies would meet to discuss the roles of the two proposed entities to ensure there was no conflict, sources in the two Ministries said.
While the task force of the NCHER – promoted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development – has been in existence, the NCHRH – set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare -- task force was disbanded after it submitted its report and draft Bill last year.
The Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary Sujatha Rao, who discussed the turf issue of medical education with her counterpart in the HRD Ministry, also approved reconstitution of the NCHRH task force, which is also expected to make some amendments to the NCHRH draft Bill in the wake of MCI developments.
The six members of the just-constituted Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI) also attended the meeting convened at the initiative of Ms. Rao to get clarity on the role of the NCHER in higher education, possible overlapping of authority and some other possible ambiguities.
The HRD Ministry made a presentation on the proposed NCHER and clarified that the aim was to restore powers to universities and not usurp power for the NCHER. Both the bodies can co-exist without stepping on to each other's turf was the overwhelming sentiment.
Those present at the meeting sought a road map for the two proposed bodies to remove ‘confusion' over their respective roles. Several suggestions also came up during discussions which would be discussed in the future meetings.
NCHRH to be set up
Talking to journalists after the hour-long meeting, Ms. Rao said there was no question of transferring medical education to the HRD Ministry. “Medical science cannot be divorced from actual health policy,” she said, adding that the Health Ministry would set up a NCHRH which will look into health education and set standards and regulation for health sciences and research.
Union HRD Secretary (Higher Education) Vibha Puri Das said: “We discussed the NCHER and how we can work in tandem with the other Ministries. They (Health Ministry officials) are very positive about how to bring about the best possible reforms and what will be the best possible way forward so that we can improve the quality of higher education.”
Asked about the objections raised by the Health Ministry to the proposal for inclusion of health education under the NCHER, Ms. Das said the HRD Ministry was yet to take a final view on functions of the proposed body. “We are discussing and working towards an agreed solution, It needs to cleared that what the NCHER would do and what the NCHRH would do, she said.
The six members of the just constituted Board of Governors of the MCI also called on the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad here.
Talking to reporters later, Mr. Azad said the Ministry would have no say in granting recognition to medical colleges as absolute powers had been given in this regard to a six-member panel.
“The six-member panel which replaced the MCI will be an autonomous body with double powers. It will include the powers of MCI and also that of the Health Ministry,'' he said.
“As such no recommendations from the Ministry will be sent to them nor will these be entertained by them. As used to happen earlier where the Ministry had a final say, now the panel's decision will be considered final."