Revising Teacher-Student ratio in Medical Colleges is essential

Revising Teacher-Student ratio in Medical Colleges is essential

Revising the teacher-student ratio in medical colleges is essential to meet the huge demand of doctors in the country, Health Secretary V.K.Subburaj said on Wednesday.

Setting the agenda for discussion during the second All-India Health Sciences University Vice-Chancellors Conference (VC-CON 2008) organised by the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, he said capacity (in the medical profession) could be created only when the Medical Council of India rules and regulations were changed.

One of the key issues with medical education was the dearth of faculty, thanks to the MCI norms on the student-teacher ratio. In some subjects, the recommendation is a 1:1 ratio. Mr.Subburaj recommended that the ratio be revised to 1:5 or 1:10.

The MCI should also allow faculty to be shared by many institutions. “Classroom training has to undergo a drastic change. There can be virtual classrooms, as is being done in engineering colleges. This will also help to overcome the shortage of teaching staff.”

The Health Secretary was appreciative of the fact that work on syllabus revision to bring it to international standards, had been started, but deplored the lack of emphasis on research.

He also pointed to the inadequacy of the number of medical teaching institutions in the country.

There were only 271 medical colleges, and their distribution was also skewed, with 163 colleges functioning in the southern States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra and Puducherry. This inequity was reflected in quality and access to medical care.

“More doctors needed”

N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, also emphasised the need to increase the number of doctors in the country. He highlighted the striking contrast between the engineering and medical streams: there were 800 private engineering colleges in the four southern States as against 271 medical colleges in the entire country.

Medical education had not been able to produce the human resources to meet even minimal demands, with the doctor-population ratio standing at 1:5000.

This was an unacceptable situation, particularly if one looked at the state of public health in rural India.

The policies of the MCI were obviously in the way of increasing the number of medical professionals, but changes must be made while preserving high standards. Mr. Ram urged the Vice-Chancellors to work out strategies to remedy the situation.

Health Minister MRK Panneerselvam said the State accorded an important status to medical education and was working towards setting up one government medical college in each district. It was increasing the capacity by adding medical colleges every year.

Meer Mustafa Hussain, Vice-Chancellor, TN Dr.MGR Medical University, called for creating more medical universities and colleges. For the first time, the university received grants from the University Grants Commission and would plough much of it into research.