HEALTH, EDUCATION & CORRUPTION: Centre scraps ‘tainted’ medical council – at long last, changes for the better, cleaning house ?!!

HEALTH, EDUCATION & CORRUPTION: Centre scraps ‘tainted’ medical council – at long last, changes for the better, cleaning house ?!!

Arrested MCI president Ketan Desai - a sad legacy of corrupt ineptitude ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

New Delhi, May 15: The government today ended the reign of the 150-member corruption-tainted Medical Council of India and proposed a seven-member board to temporarily run the country’s apex regulator of medical education.

President Pratibha Patil this morning gave her assent to an ordinance pencilled by the Union health ministry to “supersede” the existing council and establish a new board of governors, a senior government official said.

The President’s secretariat had received the ordinance last night, the official said. It has to be approved by Parliament within six months. Names for the members of the board of governors are under discussion, the official added.

The board will be asked to oversee routine operations of the MCI — approving establishing of medical colleges, conducting inspections of infrastructure and faculty in such institutions, and maintaining a national register of doctors — for one year, a health ministry source said.

During this period, the health ministry will work on alternative legislation to govern medical education.

Some members of Parliament and medical educationists feel the health ministry has failed to check corruption at the highest level of the MCI.

The CBI had arrested MCI president Ketan Desai last month for seeking a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a medical college in Patiala, Punjab. Desai had been convicted for corruption by Delhi High Court in 2001 but had been exonerated by the CBI.

Government inaction has been interpreted by many as an attempt to protect malpractices and corruption in the MCI.

The seven-member board will supersede about 150 members of the council representing doctors, universities, state and central governments. Critics say all existing members have been under the influence of Desai.

Even before a formal announcement of names for the new board of governors, sections of doctors have expressed concern that the choice of persons might determine how much information about past wrongdoing in the MCI emerges.

“I’m worried the panel may be also used to somehow shield corruption that has taken place,” said a senior doctor who has spent many years in medical education.

A senior government official has indicated that in the current effort to restore credibility to the regulatory system for governing medical education, the board of governors will be made up of persons with “unimpeachable credentials”.

The board must not include anyone with questionable links to Desai or the MCI, said Kunal Saha, a US-based NRI doctor who has set up a NGO called People for Better Treatment.

A health official said the government was working on legislation to move medical education under an overarching council for human resources in health.

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