Amid reports that medical education would be brought under the ambit of he proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), the health ministry has objected to such a move, saying medical studies need a separate governing body.
"Medical education has a very wide field. It needs a separate governing body," a senior official of the ministry said on Monday.
"Health secretary (Sujatha Rao) has written to the human resource development (HRD) ministry giving a sketch of the problems that may arise if medical education is brought under the NCHER," he said.
The speculations arose after President Pratibha Patil on Saturday signed an ordinance dissolving the Medical Council of India (MCI) and replacing it with a seven-member committee.
The government decided to bring the ordinance after a crisis hit the regulatory body when its president Ketan Desai was arrested April 22 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs.two crore to accord recognition to a medical college in Punjab though it did not meet MCI standards. Desai gave his resignation to the health ministry Wednesday.
A seven-member panel, led by eminent gastroenterologist S.K. Sarin, will replace the MCI and serve for a period of one year.
The official said that there were little chances of revival of the MCI, which had been tasked to oversee the standards of medical education in India, grant recognition to medical degrees, give accreditation to medical colleges, register medical practitioners and monitor medical practice in the country.
"The MCI may or may not be revived, but medical education should be left with the health ministry," he said, adding talks are likely to be held between the two ministries this week.
The letter written to HRD Secretary Vibha Puri Das included issues like affiliation of medical college to universities, problems that may come in drafting and approving the syllabus and possibility of conflicts between the college management and hospital management to which the colleges are attached.
"Since medical education is linked with hospitals, it is not good to have them under different ministries," the official said.
The letter also expressed the health ministry's desire to have a separate National Council for Human Resources in Health as announced by President Patil in her speech to the joint session of Parliament last year.
"We can have a body overlooking all aspects of medical education including nursing, dentistry, and other subjects," he said.
The proposed National Council for Human Resources in Health will separate regulation of medical education from regulation of medical practice. Both will be under the health ministry.
Sources from the HRD ministry said that the draft NCHER bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament.