Medicos in Philippines stare at uncertain future

Indian embassy advisory urges parents to be cautious after NMC notification

September 14, 2022 07:45 pm | Updated September 15, 2022 09:36 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The students who joined the MD programme at South Western University, Phinma, in the Philippines in August.

The students who joined the MD programme at South Western University, Phinma, in the Philippines in August. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Last week, the Indian embassy in the Philippines issued an advisory urging Indian parents to take a considered decision before sending their wards there for medical education to avoid financial loss and professional uncertainty.

The advisory was issued after the embassy was flooded with queries regarding the conformity of medical education in the Philippines with the requirements of the National Medical Commission (NMC) (Foreign Medical Graduate Licentiate) Regulation, 2021.

The fact is that after the uncertain future of medical students who returned to India from war-torn Ukraine, now thousands of Indian medical students in the Philippines stare at a bleak future following the NMC notification.

As per the notification dated November 18, 2021 no foreign medical graduate shall be granted permanent registration unless he has undergone a course leading to a foreign medical degree with a minimum duration of 54 months. Further, it mandates that a licence granted by a competent authority equivalent to the NMC in the respective country is essential to practise medicine in India.

In the case of Indian medical students in the Philippines, the duration of MD (Doctor of Medicine), which is equivalent to MBBS in India, is 48 months. Indian graduates are not allowed to apply for the Board of Medical Examiners in the Philippines, which is a competent authority equivalent to the NMC.

The Medical Act of 1959 of the Philippines stipulates that candidates for Board Examination shall be a citizen of the Philippines or a citizen of any foreign country who has submitted competent and conclusive documentary evidence confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, showing that his/her country's laws permit citizens of the Philippines to practise medicine under the same rules and regulations governing citizens thereof. Unfortunately, India has no such reciprocal agreement with the Philippines.

So the chances of getting a licence from the Board Examination in the Philippines are remote for Indian students. Around 13,500 students, including around 6,000 Keralites, are pursuing the two-year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in biology, a premedical course in the Philippines, in 21 colleges, which is a prerequisite for joining the MD programme.

“Though the students who joined the MD course before this notification (18/11/2021) have been exempted, thousands of Indian students pursuing BS in the Philippines are now at a crossroads unable to take a decision after spending lakhs of rupees and two years. We request the Centre to grant a one-time exemption for the Indian students who joined the BS degree for pursuing medical degree in the Philippines,” says Muhamed Sadik, a Kozhikode-based parent whose daughter is pursuing the BS programme there.

Another issue is that unscrupulous agencies are recruiting students to the Philippines without disclosing the latest developments. “We have already spent lakhs of rupees for doing the BS course and lost almost two years. So the government should be ready to make necessary changes in the notification at least in order to provide a chance for the existing students to complete their education,” says a student from Thiruvananthapuram.

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