Thirty years on, the proposal of a National Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Architecture (NIHEA) may finally get some concrete too. Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday announced to start the NIHEA at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here.
Azad made the declaration - the second such by a health minister, but this one backed by much planning -- at the conclusion of the institute's golden jubilee celebrations, where Vice-President Hamid Ansari was the chief guest. The health minister said the NIHEA would be the first institute of its kind in South Asia and offer two master degrees with help from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Though no deadline was expressly mentioned, highly placed sources at the PGIMER said the two-year MBAs may take off as early as the next session, and would offer these specialisations: health facility planning & design, and healthcare engineering & management. While the first year would include general syllabus with some reference to the special nature of the courses, the second year would be focused mainly on the specialisations.
The study of engineering was first proposed at the PGIMER by the then hospital engineer Dr JC Mehta, who is also a member of the health ministry's expert group on the issue. Even the standing academic committee of the institute had given its approval in 1981. Mehta, who ironically wasn't invited at the function, said, "This initiative of a unique inter-discipline NIHEA has already been applauded by the WHO (World Health Organization). The institute (PGIMER) deservedly got this gift at its golden jubilee celebrations. Everything is in place; it can be started anytime."
In 2006 too, during the PGIMER convocation, the then health minister Anbumani Ramadoss had declared to start the NIHEA, but there were hardly any plans on the ground so it didn't take off.