The Union health ministry has shot down the proposal of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to set up medical colleges and offer courses in medicine and surgery.
An expert committee of the ministry that met on Tuesday, however, agreed to country’s premier engineering and technology institutes starting PhD programmes in technology-related branches of medicine such as ehealth, biomedical engineering and telemedicine.
“The expertise of the IITs is technology. Why should they be treating diarrhoea and tuberculosis when they can offer expertise in greenfield areas such as biomedical engineering?” said Health Secretary Sujatha Rao, who chaired the meeting.
IITs could contribute in areas that need multidisciplinary approach, ranging from optimal drug delivery solutions to maintaining deep freezers.
Kharagpur and Madras IITs wanted to set up medical colleges in a public-private partnership with hospitals.
“It was felt that the core competence of IITs should not be diluted but used to enhance healthcare delivery,” said Dr Ketan Desai, president, Medical Council of India.
The committee also discussed the proposed National Council for Human Resources in Health — the regulatory body for ensuring coordinated development of medical education and maintaining a live electronic register of health professionals.
It was proposed that the council should help evolve a healthcare delivery plan based on disease and death trends instead of population.
“It was decided that statutory councils such as the medical councils, dental council and nursing councils…. should not be disbanded,” said an official.