February 09, 2011

Find linkages between NCHER and NCHRH: PMO

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has asked the Ministries of Human Resource Development and Health and Family Welfare to identify linkages between the two proposed regulatory bodies — National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) and the National Commission on Human Resource for Health (NCHRH) — being promoted by them respectively to speed up the process of setting up the two authorities.

Both the Ministries have been given time up to Friday next to resolve issues and work to form common grounds for coexistence. The PMO is keen on the resolution as the Medical Council of India (Amendment) Act, 2010 ends on May 15 and it is important that a mechanism is in place before that.

The Prime Minister is said to have already expressed his ‘agreement' with the NCHER.

The two Ministries have been fighting a turf war for more than a year now with the task force, set up by the HRD Ministry, bringing all higher education, including medical education and legal education under the purview of an overarching regulatory body — the NCHER — while the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been opposing it tooth and nail saying that medical education was closely linked with health infrastructure and should come under the ambit of the NCHRH.

While both the Ministries claim that the draft bills for NCHER and NCHRH are ready to be placed before the Cabinet, neither have been able to do so because of possibility of overlapping and lack of clarity.

With several attempts made earlier to make the two Ministries come to a consensus having failed, the PMO on Friday convened a meeting of the HRD task force members and experts from the Health and Family Welfare Ministry (since the task force that drafted the NCHRH Bill has been disbanded) to thrash out the issues in the presence of T.K.A. Nair, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.

After both the sides placed their version, Mr. Nair asked them to find a common ground for the existence of both the Commissions. One possible way could be cross representation, the second could be bringing the medical colleges and research under the purview of the NCHER while the related health infrastructure and services, accreditation, ethics and maintenance of medical registers could remain with the NCHRH. There was also a suggestion that bodies such as the National Board of Examinations that are outside the university system could be central to NCHRH.

Link: Original Article

February 08, 2011

Tata Docomo launches m-Health awareness service

Tata Docomo, the GSM brand of Tata Teleservices, today launched a new service ''Sparsh'', which offers information on sexual and reproductive health- related issues.
"The service is aimed at using mobile phone to build awareness about issues related to sexual and reproductive health related concerns," Tata Docomo said in a statement.

The service would be available in English, Hindi and Marathi, while other languages like Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam will be added soon.
"Sparsh aims at creating awareness about sex education on the mobile. Majority of Indians are still conservative about openly discussing and clearing doubts about the topic", Tata Docomo Vice President New Product Development - VAS Zubin Jimmy Dubash said.

Keeping this in mind, we have introduced Sparsh, which offers the customer complete privacy in accessing this information through a simple IVR call, he added.
Tata Docomo customers can access the service by calling 529222 chargeable at Rs 10 for 10 days and a browsing charge of one paisa per second.

Link: Original Article

Bill seeks to regulate wombs-for-rent

A woman acting as surrogate mother in India cannot be less than 21 or over 35 years. Also, she cannot give more than five live births, including her own children.

With India fast emerging as a hotspot for rent-a-womb phenomenon, the Union health ministry has now finalised the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) Regulation Bill 2010, which has been sent to the law ministry for its approval.

The Bill has incorporated several landmark stipulations. For instance, no surrogate mother shall undergo embryo transfer more than three times for the same couple. If a surrogate mother is married, the consent of her spouse is mandatory. Only Indian citizens can be considered for surrogacy. No ART bank or clinic can send an Indian citizen for surrogacy abroad. Strict confidentiality has to be maintained about the donor's identity.

A would-be surrogate mother will be duty bound not to engage in any act that could harm the foetus during pregnancy and the baby after birth.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Dr V M Katoch told TOI, "This is a very important Bill. It has been finalised and sent to the law ministry for its approval. The department of health research will be responsible for the Bill's execution. We are following up with the law ministry on a weekly basis."

Once the Bill gets the assent, it will become binding on a surrogate mother to relinquish all her filial rights over the baby. And, the birth certificate of the baby born through surrogacy will bear the name of the individual or individuals, who had commissioned the surrogacy, as parents. The commissioning parents could be a single man or woman, a married couple or an unmarried couple, who are in a live-in relationship.

"Since we have defined couple as two persons living together and having legal sex, lesbians and gays won't be allowed to use ART. Once India makes this relationship permissible, lesbians and gays can also go for IVF," said Dr R S Sharma, deputy director general of division of reproductive health and nutrition, ICMR.

He added, "Live-in couples can go for IVF only of the woman cannot biologically bear a child, or it is risky for her to bear one. No ART clinic shall consider conception by surrogacy for patients for whom it may normally be possible to carry a baby to term. A doctor will have to first certify that a conception would lead to undesirable medical implications."

The commissioning parents will be legally bound to accept the custody of the child irrespective of any congenital abnormality. Refusal will be considered a cognisable offense under this Act.

The Bill makes another very important point: No woman can be treated with gametes or embryos derived from the gametes of more than one man or woman during any one treatment cycle. An ART clinic cannot mix semen from two individuals before use. "Now, if the sperm count is less in a semem sample, it is mixed with multiple samples for a good count. This is unethical, and won't be allowed," Dr Sharma said.

According to the Union health ministry note, which is in possession with TOI, it is estimated that 15% of couples around the world are infertile. This implies that infertility is one of the most highly prevalent medical problems that have enormous social implications. Usually, infertility carries a social stigma in India.

As per the note, "Today 85% of the cases of infertility can be taken care of through medicines, surgery or the new medical technologies such IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The last 20 years have seen an exponential growth of infertility clinics that use techniques requiring handling of spermatozoa or the oocyte outside the body, or the use of a surrogate mother.

At present, an individual is free to open an infertility or ART clinic since no permission is required for it. "There has been, consequently, a mushrooming of such clinics around the country. It has become important to regulate the functioning of such clinics to ensure that the services provided are ethical and that the medical, social and legal rights of all those concerned are protected. The Bill details procedures for accreditation and supervision of infertility clinics," the note added.

Hence, a foreigner or foreign couple not resident in India, or a non-resident Indian individual or couple, seeking surrogacy in India shall have to appoint a local guardian, who will be legally responsible for taking care of the surrogate during and after the pregnancy till the child/children are delivered to the commissioning couple.

Link: Original Article

February 07, 2011

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) - State sharpens surveillance

The state health department has gone on an overdrive in conducting surveillance post discovery of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) cases in Ahmedabad city.

In fact doctors or paramedical staff in at least four hospitals, Shalby, Shreyas, Sterling and Adarsh hospitals which had attended to CCHF patients are now being monitored by the health staff of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. This surveillance also includes monitoring the health of the family members of the staff.

A special team was also sent to the society where deceased nurse Asha John lived and the surveillance on 160 members of the society was also conducted for unusual fever symptoms. A similar process was carried out in the case of Dr Gagan Sharma of Shalby hospital, the doctor who had attended to one of the CCHF cases. State health department officials say that in the last fortnight no unusual hemorrhagic fever cases have been reported from the 58 large hospitals in the city.

In a special move, the AMC will carry out surveillance in all cattle sheds within corporation limits and slaughter houses that operate, both legally and illegally. "One of our major concern is the Hyalomma ticks that are present on cattle and are the transmitters of the deadly disease."

Amina Momin from Kolat village in Sanand taluka who had succumbed to the disease on January 3 too had a small cattle farm that may have been the cause of the disease. "The animal husbandry department officials which had conducted survey of livestock in villages within the vicinity of Kolat since Sunday have reported no unusual cattle infection cases in the past one year," says a senior official of the animal husbandry department.

Link: Original Article

February 06, 2011

Out-of-box solutions needed for remote areas

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad has called for “out of the box” solutions to reach out to remote areas so that health services can be provided there at the earliest.

Speaking at a two-day national conference of State Health Ministers and Health Secretaries here on Wednesday, Mr. Azad said that in many remote areas of hilly States, tribal pockets and northeastern States, access to health facilities continued to be a problem in view of the difficult terrain, geographical spread, and non-availability of human resources. “My Ministry has proposed a Bachelor of Rural Healthcare course as one of the solutions to improve availability of health personnel for these areas,” he added.

Mentioning that the Government of India had provided Rs.53,000 crore to the States under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) over the last six years, Mr. Azad said that a National Urban Health Mission was being formulated to take care of infrastructure needs.

The pace of decline in various key health indicators like Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality rate (IMR), Total fertility Rate, and death and morbidity due to communicable diseases had not improved as compared to the pre-NRHM period. Complimenting the governments of southern and western States for excellent performance, Mr. Azad said that in so far as central, eastern, northeastern and north Indian States were concerned, the time had come to closely look at the implementation of schemes, identify bottle-necks and improve performance.

Mr. Azad urged the States to take advantage of the reforms introduced in medical education and set up more medical colleges and increase the intake of students in post-MBBS and postgraduate courses. He said that depending on the success of the national programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke — being taken up in 100 most backward and remote districts in States during 2010-12 — it would be extended to all 650 districts in the country under the 12th Plan. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who inaugurated the conference, outlined various programmes being implemented, including the flagship Aarogyasri, under which Rs.3,000 crore was spent during the last three years.

The aim of the government was to bring down the MMR from the current 154 per thousand live births to 100 by 2012, Mr. Reddy said.

The meet will come out with a Hyderabad Action Plan on Thursday to focus on implementation in the remaining part of the 11th plan and provide a roadmap for the 12th plan.

Link: Original Article

Don't visit doctors,email them: UK

Doctors in Britain are asking their patients to email their symptoms rather than making an appointment under a new scheme which aims to save the UK's National Health Service up to £ 1 billion a year.

The results would be picked up by doctors at the end of the day or during free time between appointments; people suffering from conditions like heart failure, diabetes or lung disease could even be asked to measure their blood pressure and then send the results.

The proposals are part of a pilot trial of 6,000 patients with longterm illnesses in Cornwall, Kent and east London. All participants have been given electronic devices to record vital measurements to be sent to the surgery and the results will be published later in the year.

In the scheme, doctors would make an appointment for the patient to come into the surgery if they are concerned by the results. In less serious cases, they will write back with advice.

Link: Original Article

February 05, 2011

Flutter over post-MBBS plan

Medical education in the country is set for a makeover. But the recommendations of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for creating "competent" doctors have kicked up controversy.

The most contentious point is the introduction of a two-year MMed course, which the MCI believes will equip MBBS graduates with better clinical competence. The MCI wants all MBBS graduates to get MMed degrees before starting practice or opting for higher studies.

But many medical teachers do not find much merit in the idea. They say that on one hand the MCI wants many "basic doctors" to serve as general physicians or in villages, while on the other it is lengthening the process of creating such doctors by introducing a mandatory two-year post-MBBS course.

A senior professor from the Topiwala National Medical College, attached to the civic-run Nair Hospital , said doctors will not be open to the idea of serving in villages after spending an extra two years in medical school. "We are again committing the mistake of creating specialists . That will definitely not answer the concern of skewed doctorpatient ratios in rural areas."

A component of the proposed course is that students will have to spend six months at a district hospital or in industry. Students who do a rural sting will get a 5% incentive. But the MCI has not clearly spelt out the evaluation model. Also, it is yet to come out with clear guidelines on the duration of the bond period for the postgraduate programme.

Teachers are concerned about the significance of the MMed course for paraclinical subjects like anatomy, physiology and pharmacology , where students usually take up teaching as their profession. "What are these students going to do at a district hospital or in industry ?" said a professor from the GS Medical College.

An MCI official said the idea is to create a vast pool of doctors on these subjects. "Once we have enough professors, students opting for these subjects can be directly allowed to go for their MD."

But, teachers say, this entails a risk of driving aspiring teachers towards private practice.

Brushing aside the apprehensions , Dr Avinash Supe of KEM Hospital , who was part of the MCI panel that has made the recommendations , said the idea is to have better doctors. "Our country lacks family physicians. We have (ensured in our plans) that a considerable number, or 15,000-20 ,000, of MMed graduates get into family medicine."

ROADMAP FOR DOCS

PROPOSED
Entry to MBBS course through single national level entrance exam Course duration: 4 years Post-MBBS internship: 1 year Direct entry to MMed course of duration 2 years Entry to post-graduate course (MD/MS) through national or state level entrance exam Course duration: 1 year Entry to super-specialisation courses (DM/MCh) through national or state level entrance exam Course duration: 2 years Minimum time from entry to MBBS to completion of super-specialisation : 10 years

EXISTING
Entry to MBBS course through national or state level entrance exam Course duration: 4.5 years Post-MBBS internship: 1 year Entry to post-graduate course (MD/MS) through national or state level entrance exam Course duration: 3 years Entry to super-specialisation courses (DM/MCh) through national or state level entrance exam Course duration: 3 years Minimum time from entry to MBBS to completion of super-specialisation : 11.5 years

IMPACT OF PROPOSED CHANGES
Projection for 2020 MBBS | 50,000 per year M Med | 50,000 per year MD | 25,000 per year Fellowships | 7,500 per year DM/MCh | 5,000 per year

Link: Original Article

Nationwide Protest by Indian Medical Association (IMA)

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) members held a nationwide protest demanding the dissolution of the Medical Council of India (MCI) other regulations concerned with the medical education in the country.

They also opposed the decision of the Indian Government on implementation of the Bachelor of Rural Health Care(BRMC). They alleged that this procedure was unethical and would only promote quacks. The association has demanded the ministry to resolve their issues within 15days, or have threatened to go on strike.

IMA president Dr. Zora Singh said, "There are 1,000 doctors registered with IMA and we would counter the ministry's decision if our demands are not met. The Clinical Establishment Bill, 2010 contains some unfair and unacceptable provisions which are highly objectionable. The 'Stabilizing the patient' clause is a hindrance in the smooth functioning."

Link: Original Article

February 04, 2011

Lancet editor apologises for naming super bug after New Delhi

The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, apologised on Tuesday for naming an antibiotic-resistant superbug after New Delhi. It was an “error,” he said.

A report in the leading medical journal in August last stated that superbug “New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamese” (NDM-1) originated in India. It created uproar in the country.

“The science behind the report was very strong, sound and correct. But it should not have been named after a city,” Dr. Horton told journalists here. “It was an error and I apologise for it. I think it should be renamed, but it should be up to the microbiologists [who discovered the superbug].”

Dr. Horton admitted that the name stigmatised the city or the region.

After the publication of the article, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry said its contents presented a “frightening picture, which is not supported by any scientific data.”

Karthikeyan Kumarasawamy, a research student at the A.L. Mudaliar Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, who co-authored the article with Timothy Walsh, dismissed as hypothetical the conclusion that the bacteria was transmitted from the country. He said some interpretations were worked into the report without his knowledge.

Link: Original Article

February 03, 2011

Need protocol on doctors with foreign degrees, MCI told

The government has asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) to put in place a protocol that makes it simpler for a doctor with foreign qualification to work in India, an official said here Friday.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Public Health: Engaging the diaspora' at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas function, Health and Family Welfare Ministry additional secretary Keshav Desiraju said the government was waiting for the MCI to make a clear recommendation on the issue.

Responding to a complaint from an NRI doctor that he had not received any reply from the MCI on his offer to work in India since past two years, Desiraju said: 'We have asked MCI to come back to us with a clear view... to put in place a protocol by which it is simpler for a person with foreign qualification to work here.'

He said, 'Health is a state subject while medical education is in the concurrent list'.

Earlier, speaking at the seminar, Desiraju said that primary health centres were not functioning at the optimum levels in some states and more doctors were needed in rural areas.

He said medical practitioners should spend some part of their service in the public health system.

'Public service in India always needs commitment that we find is decreasing. The thrust is to work in a large private hospital. The best people coming out of institutions are not available to the government. We need to address it,' he said.

Link: Original Article

Overseas Indian doctors ready to help India

Around 300,000 doctors of Indian origin are working abroad and they are willing to help the Indian government in a variety of ways, a leading Britain-based doctor said.

'Indian doctors abroad are keen to work in a variety of ways, including voluntary work, support in collaborative research and medical education,' Doctor Ramesh Mehta, secretary general of the Global Association of Physicians of Indian origin (GAPIO), told IANS.

Mehta, who is also president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), said: 'There is hardly any country in the world where Indian doctors are not working. We want to coordinate their efforts to make it more beneficial to India by identifying their area of interest and matching it with the needs of the country.'

Mehta is in New Delhi to take part in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual convention of people of Indian origin all over the world.

According to him, over 40,000 doctors of Indian origin were working in the UK's National Health Service (NHS), a publicly funded healthcare system.

'Approximately 10,000 doctors are retired or retiring and 15,000 doctors are in training and they are looking for opportunities in India. There is scope for a reverse brain drain,' Mehta said.

He said there is great scope of research for cheap drugs to tackle problems of infections and diseases like diabetes in India.

'The collaboration can be done with the pharmaceutical industry in India. Many Indian doctors abroad are working in the field of research and teaching,' he added.

Mehta said that his earlier efforts to form tie-ups in research and education did not work due to 'bureaucratic obstacles.'

'Things are happening but not in the way they should... It takes time to get any work done. There is the question of recognition of foreign qualifications which has not been sorted out by the Indian Medical Council and the government. Simple things take so long,' he said.

Suggesting an NHS-like health care system for India, Mehta said the government should invest in public health as the burden of disease causes loss of productivity.

'The state has to play a bigger role because of the poor economic condition of a majority of the population,' he said.

Link: Original Article

February 02, 2011

Govt asks NRIs to invest in health, education

Pravasi Bhartiya Divas -- country's annual event to connect with its diaspora -- began on Friday with the government asking overseas Indians to invest in sectors like health and education and in the north-east where the country needs massive investments.

In his inaugural speech, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi invited the 25-million strong diaspora to be part of the 'India growth story' and take the country forward in diverse sectors.

Addressing the session, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the education sector needs about $150 billion of investment in the next 10 years and sought active cooperation of the diaspora in building quality education infrastructure in the country.

"India is a land of opportunity today. We cannot sustain the economic growth rate unless we have quality educational infrastructure and empower our youths. We invite you to invest in the educational sector where we need massive investment," Sibal said.

He said the government was in the process of introducing various bills in Parliament as part of educational reforms.

In this context, he said the obstruction by opposition is delaying the process and criticised them.

"I hope the bills will be passed soon. In democracy, one way to defeat the government is to bring a no confidence motion against it. If you cannot defeat the government through a no confidence motion, then you do not have the luxury of stopping business of Parliament," he said.

Inviting the diaspora for deeper two-way engagement in the sector, he said, "I think new frontiers of knowledge will be discovered in India through investment and greater carrying of knowledge."

He said government is bringing the Foreign Education Bill to encourage foreign investment and hopes to pass it soon.

Sibal said the government plans to increase the gross enrollment ratio of children reaching college from 12 to 30 per cent by 2020 and to cater to this increase in number of children reaching higher educational institutes, 1,000 more universities and 45,000 more colleges were needed.

"This is a mind boggling challenge," he said.

Addressing the session on health sector, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi suggested that all those present should come together and prepare a roadmap for investment in health sector.

Nearly 1,500 overseas Indians from 51 countries, including top businessmen, economists and scientists, are participating in the three-day conclave being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

Link: Original Article

Politics barrier to medical entrance

Shuffling between the Supreme Court and his work at New Delhi's Safdarjung hospital, Saurabh Jain says he is learning firsthand how political pressure can shackle the government from implementing policies which it itself believes in. Jain and thousands of MBBS graduates keen to pursue their MD have over the past several months have repeatedly petitioned the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the health ministry for a single medical entrance test.

But despite convincing the MCI and the union health secretary, and even after the Supreme Court's sanction, they find themselves no closer to a common test.

"It is so blatant... all that matters is politics," Jain said, desperately looking for updates on the government's plans for medical entrance examinations.

India currently has more than 50 entrance examinations for MBBS courses, spread over institutions and states across the country. Dozens of tests also dot the examination calendar every year for postgraduate (PG) medical programmes.

But students like Jain and other proponents of a common test are not opposed to multiple examinations only because of the strain they place on students.

The bigger problem with holding multiple tests is that they cause seats to remain empty, often done deliberately by institutions, which then admit students through the back door, a veteran doctor on the reconstituted board of the MCI told.

"Individual institutions don't just make money by holding their own examinations but also by allowing seats to go waste, and then charging capitation fees to fill these seats. It's a racket, and that's why we want to stop the practice," the MCI board member said.

Even public institutions - like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences - are allowing up to 30 per cent of their precious seats to go waste every year because of multiple entrance tests.

AIIMS has itself admitted before the Supreme Court that dozens of students who obtain relatively "undesirable" PG streams through the institute examination nevertheless take up seats, earning government stipend and using the institute hostel while preparing for other examinations.

If they get the stream of their choice through any of the other examinations spread through the year, they quit AIIMS - wasting the seats they took up at the premier medical school.

The MCI, first in 2009 and then July 2010, after its board was reconstituted, proposed amendments to the country's health education regulations to allow a common entrance test at undergraduate (UG) and PG levels.

Internal documents of the health ministry, accessed through the Right to Information Act, show that on August 10, 2010, health secretary Sujatha Rao even wrote to health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad pushing vigorously for the common tests despite likely opposition.

"The common entrance examination will have the immediate advantage of reducing substantial amount of stress and expenditure that students of middle class families undergo year after year… This would also ensure that all seats across the country are filled on merit which would have a bearing on the quality of persons qualifying as doctors," Rao said in her note.

Rao told Azad that apart from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala - which she said had the highest number of private medical colleges - all states had accepted the common test proposal.

"In all likelihood, there will be some amount of opposition to this very major and long-felt reform from the private medical colleges, who are minting money and have made medical education a lucrative business," the note said.

Rao alerted Azad that there might be litigation, but sought the minister's approval saying "this would be a historic decision".

What is stopping the common tests then?

The answer, government sources say, lies in the strong opposition from select states, in particular Tamil Nadu (ruled by the UPA), where both the DMK and the Opposition AIADMK are vocally against a common test.

Both the parties are arguing that a common national test would hurt the interests of poor and backward community students who have no access to expensive coaching classes.

But this argument is specious since each state can continue to implement quotas as at present even with a common test, the MCI board member said.

The Congress-led government appears unwilling to upset its ally ahead of the Tamil Nadu elections. The health ministry on January 4 ordered the MCI to withdraw a notification for common tests issued on November 21.

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal, personally keen on common tests, also assured everyone that no common tests would be held without the consent of state governments.

But the MCI board appears equally determined not to give up its proposal for common tests easily, and will push for its plan at a meeting with state ministers called later this month.

Students across the country will watch that meeting to see what triumphs - politics or education.

Link: Original Article

February 01, 2011

MCI notifications on entrance tests stayed

The Madras High Court on Thursday granted an interim stay of operation, so far as it related to Tamil Nadu, of two notifications of regulations of the Medical Council of India (MCI) of December last year, prescribing eligibility-cum-entrance tests for selection to MBBS and postgraduate medical education.

Justice P.Jyothimani passed the interim order on writ petitions filed by the Tamil Nadu government seeking to declare the notifications as ab initio null and void. He ordered notice on the petitions.

In his affidavit, the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, V.K.Subburaj, submitted that Tamil Nadu had already enacted legislation in 2007 as per which admission to government seats in professional educational institutions was made by the appropriate authority based on the marks obtained by students in the relevant subjects in the qualifying examination. A direction had also been issued to the Consortium of Unaided Professional Educational Institutions to admit students in unaided professional educational institutions on the basis of the marks obtained in the relevant subjects in the qualifying examination. Therefore, merit played an important role in the selection of candidates. The selection process to professional colleges was being successfully implemented. There were no complaints from any quarter.

The petitioner said the MCI notifications had been issued without considering the objections by Tamil Nadu. Further, the notifications ran contrary to the State Act of 2007. In the absence of the Centre's approval, the regulations were ab initio void and liable to be set aside. Though the Centre directed the MCI to withdraw the notifications, the council had not taken any step. Further, the notifications suffered from serious legal infirmity of lack of legislative competence and jurisdiction and of unreasonableness. The council had not provided opportunity to State Governments before amending and notifying the regulations. There was an ex facie unreasonableness in holding a single entrance test throughout the country as there were different streams of education in different States. The council was keen on implementing the regulations. This had created confusion in students.

Strongly opposing the regulations, Additional Advocate-General P.Wilson argued that the regulations virtually uprooted the State Act of 2007 which was not permissible.

Link: Original Article

Rating system for medical colleges

Students looking to gain admission in colleges affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University may find the process a lot easier next year. Authorities are mulling over formulating a rating system for these institutions to help students decide the category of college that they want to join, university vice-chancellor Dr Mayil Vahanan Natarajan said.

"We have formed an expert committee to look into the issue. They are working on deciding the parameters for the rating as different faculties will need to be marked on different factors such as infrastructure, available staff, papers submitted and so on. We hope this will be ready within three months. Once the rating is carried out, it will be uploaded on to the website," he said while speaking to reporters ahead of the 21st university convocation scheduled to be held on Saturday.

Elaborating on the different initiatives of the university, the vice-chancellor added that the institution was preparing a glossary of 17,000 technical terms in medicine in Tamil with support from the Tamil Nadu Virtual University. Authorities hope that this can act as a foundation for the creation of Tamil textbooks for medicine and eventually an MBBS course in Tamil in future.

Commenting on the strict evaluation system, Dr Natarajan said the university had decided to add up to five marks as grace marks to a student's aggregate percentage in order to make the candidate pass. If they scored 48 per cent, for instance, university authorities could add the marks to make it 50 per cent, the pass mark.

In order to make the award of degrees more convenient for students looking to apply for further studies, the university has split the convocation ceremony into two components this year. While the first session is being held in January, the second will be held in June. A total of 5136 candidates would be awarded degrees in the upcoming convocation and 22 senior doctors, who served as teachers and are now retired, would be awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards'. Seven persons would be awarded honorary doctorates.

Read more: Rating system for medical colleges - The Times of India

Link: Original Article

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