Cadaver crunch in U.P medical colleges - Hindustan Times
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Cadaver crunch in U.P medical colleges

ByGaurav Saigal, Lucknow
Oct 26, 2023 07:45 PM IST

Most state-run medical colleges rely on body donations for anatomy teaching, but the numbers aren’t adequate

At least 21 of the 35 state-run medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh are grappling with the challenge of procuring adequate number of cadavers required for teaching first-year anatomy students.

Students dissecting a cadaver. (Pic for representation)
Students dissecting a cadaver. (Pic for representation)

Cadavers are human bodies used by medical students, doctors and scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites and determine causes of death. Most state-run medical colleges across India rely on donations for cadavers.

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“The ideal ratio is one body for 10 students, which allows each student to properly examine the part being dissected. On one dissection table, 10 students are able to stand comfortably to watch what is taught and done. Hence, the ratio of 1:10 is considered ideal,” said Prof Navneet Kumar, HoD (anatomy), King George’s Medical University (KGMU).

UP has 30 medical colleges with a minimum capacity of 100 seats. Going by the ideal ratio of one body for 10 students, at least 300 cadavers are required. But the number of body donations does not cross the 150 mark in the state, said health experts.

Sample this. Currently, the Maa Vindhyavasini Autonomous State Medical College in Mirzapur has two cadavers brought from other medical institutions. Started in 2021, the college will be teaching the third batch of students this year.

“We have got four freezers for bodies this year. A body donation awareness programme has been conducted…we will accept body donations from willing families,” said Dr Raj Bahadur Kamal, principal of the medical college.

If no one donates bodies, the batch will have to study anatomy with one cadaver for 50 students, he added.

The Maharishi Devraha Baba Medical College in Deoria, established in 2021, currently has eight cadavers for medical students. These bodies were procured from various medical institutions, including the Institute of Medical Sciences - Banaras Hindu University (IMS-BHU), Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial Medical College in Kanpur and King George’s Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow.

Dr Rajesh Kumar Baranwal, principal of the Deoria-based medical college, said, “We have started awareness programmes for body donation. So far, about a dozen people have submitted body donation forms on their own.”

“We need cadavers for medical education and hence institutes having more bodies provide us the same for teaching purpose,” he added.

“A normal person would imagine that the uterus is similar to the size of a newborn, but those who have done dissection know that this organ could fit in the palm of your hand or may be less than the size of a smartphone. There’s confusion regarding the size, shape and location of other organs too. Only cadaver dissection can help medical students understand things perfectly,” said Prof Royana Singh, HoD (anatomy) at Banaras Hindus University (BHU). “Dissection also provides a 3D visualisation of the body and its organs to help students diagnose medical issues with confidence,” said Singh.

At Hardoi’s Autonomous State Medical College, almost all MBBS seats are filled, but there are only two bodies brought from other institutes for the academic session. Principal Prof Arya Desh Dipak said, “We hope to get more cadavers with cooperation from the police and administration.”

The medical college has 100 MBBS seats. Doctors here said bodies are also donated by ashrams, but it has to be ensured that there are no claimants for them, before the cadavers are used for anatomy teaching.

“Getting cadavers wasn’t difficult before 1990 as we could get unclaimed and unidentified bodies. But according to the changed rules, no unclaimed body can be left or given to anyone before a post-mortem examination. After a post-mortem examination, it is hardly of any use for medical education,” said Prof Navneet Kumar, HoD (anatomy) at KGMU.

At the Rani Durgawati Medical College in Banda, the department of anatomy has six bodies to begin the academic session for 100 MBBS students.

“We ensure that the quality of teaching does not suffer, even if we have less number of cadavers. We are trying to get some from other institutes in Kanpur,” said Dr GL Nigam, HoD (anatomy) at the medical college.

At the Maharishi Vashishtha Autonomous State Medical College in Basti (established in 2019), two or three cadavers are available on an average in a year for medical students.

“If the bodies are unclaimed, we get them after post-mortem examination. There are incisions, but if 90% of the body is intact, anatomy students are trained using such cadavers,” said Dr Gyan Prakash, HoD (anatomy) at the medical college.

Some premier institutes such as KGMU, BHU and GSVM Medical College are coming to the rescue of state-run medical colleges and donating excess cadavers for teaching.

The Banaras Hindu University, which has 100 MBBS seats, gets between 45 and 50 body donations every year.

“We need 10 bodies for anatomy teaching, four for exams and another 10 are kept as reserve for the next year. We provide cadavers to government medical colleges when the demand is raised by them for teaching,” said Prof Royana Singh.

The state’s medical education department is going to pitch 14 more medical colleges before the National Medical Commission. If the green light is given after inspection, there will be 1,400 more MBBS seats in these colleges from 2024 session. And the shortfall of cadavers may also go up.

Anatomy has been the most significant part of the MBBS curriculum. “The present anatomy curriculum is of one year, but this used to be of two years initially. Despite the syllabus having been compressed, the significance of dissection and learning on cadaver is the same,” said Prof Navneet Kumar, HoD anatomy, KGMU.

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