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We need to discuss India’s reliance on private medical colleges

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h237 (Published 22 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h237

Quality of medical education and private medical colleges in India

The question of reliance on private medical colleges in India is of importance in providing health care services to the populace at large in India. While the government has failed to provide adequate medical services to its citizens due to lack of qualified doctors and infrastructure, private medical colleges have come up to make up the gap. There is acute shortage of medical doctors in the country serving in the rural areas. India government has paid less attention towards assuring at least 6% of the GDP to allocate for the health sector. The fund crunch has led to stagnancy in establishing medical colleges under the state governments. Thus, the government has allowed private sector to establish medical colleges. Medical Council of India (MCI) has been given the authority to regulate quality of medical education and it has been empowered to recognize medical colleges based on certain criteria. It is assumed that recognized medical colleges have achieved the minimum requirements for medical education. The process of assessing quality education has been revised from time to time. However, corrupt practices has led to the compromise in the medical education and underhand practices for recognition has led to the menace of mushrooming of private medical colleges in the country.

It is unfortunate that the focus of private medical colleges, in general, has shifted to earning from capitation fees, tuition fees rather than providing quality medical education. This has led to the public opinion of poor quality of medical doctors graduating from the private medical colleges in India. However, we need to understand that not all private medical colleges are of poor standards. There are many private medical colleges which has produced renowned doctors.

India Today group survey in 2014 showed that private medical colleges constitute 20% in the first twenty of all the medical college rankings in India after consideration of the faculty, infrastructure, publications, quality of education as assessed by the students, public image, etc.. The ranking occupied by the private medical colleges in the list include Christian Medical College, Vellore (rank 2), Kasturba Medical College, Manipal (rank 5), Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai (rank 10), Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi (rank18) (1). The criteria for ranking of the colleges may be debatable. In absence of an authentic and scientific survey we have to rely on such available survey reports. If we consider this ranking, the contribution of the private medical colleges in medical colleges is still minimal considering the fact there are a large number private medical colleges in the country (215 out of 398 medical colleges). The usual public opinion that doctors from private medical colleges will try to get back their money through unethical private practices seems to stem out of this poor standards of education in private medical colleges.

The management of the private medical colleges should think from the humanitarian angle of providing quality of education to the medical students who has paid a large amount to get admission in the medical college. Efforts of the MCI in routine monitoring of standard of education should be strengthened and corrupt practices should be checked by the vigilance departments of the government, which is restricted to public medical colleges, should be expanded to the private medical colleges as well. There should be mechanisms for voluntary reporting from the students or parents about capitation fees demanded by the private medical colleges and track the black money involved in medical college admissions. Such measures will help in keeping the standards of medical education in private medical colleges.

Reference
1. India’s best medical colleges 2014. Available at http://indiatoday.intoday.in/bestcolleges/2014/ranks.jsp?ST=Medicine&LMT... (accessed on 23rd January 2015).

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 January 2015
Mongjam Meghachandra Singh
Professor,
Reeta Devi
Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, co-author- Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi; co-author- School of Health Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi