MP varsity faces flak for unique first-aid diploma
The university, which was started in Bhopal in 2011 with a vision to promote Hindi, has introduced three diploma courses - First Aid Specialists, Natural Pharma and Yoga and Natural Therapy. Governor Anandiben Patel is chancellor of the university.
The Madhya Pradesh- government run Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi (ABVH) University has started a new diploma course in first aid that it has tried to popularise by effectively promoting quackery, and to which it has tried to lend a veneer of respectability by creating a First Aid Council of India (FACI), which has signed off on the programme.
“Neem Hakeem, Jhola Chaap doctor (read quacks) or any other person can start their first aid centre to earn money after getting first aid specialist diploma course,” said an advertisement issued by the university in different newspapers and on social media platforms on December 14 to promote the one-year diploma course. The course fee is Rs28,000.
Doctors and experts have raised objection to the course saying it promotes quackery.
The university, which was started in Bhopal in 2011 with a vision to promote Hindi, has introduced three diploma courses - First Aid Specialists, Natural Pharma and Yoga and Natural Therapy.Governor Anandiben Patel is chancellor of the university.
Additional secretary to governor Rajesh Kaul said, “The university is an autonomous body and the executive members are free to take decision related to the course. If we receive any complaint, we will take action.”
“These are the first-of-its kind courses,” Ramdev Bhardwaj,the university’s vice-chancellor said in a message to media persons to promote the course. “Various state governments and the central government have many times discussed the proposal of starting a first aid course but no institution in India has ever introduced one. We have taken the initiative and it is essential for every people to learn lifesaving first aid methods.”
Ajay Sahu,the director in charge of the diploma courses, said this course provides an opportunity to everyone, including class 12 graduate and even medical practitioners without degrees, to become self-reliant. His reference is to local (often unlicensed) medical practitioners.
“The course basically needs a basic understanding of health which a student having cleared class 12 has. It is not a subject-specific thing so doesn’t need any basic qualification and knowledge of any particular subject.”
“Even, World Health Organization (WHO) promotes first-aid programmes. We are following the 300-page manual of WHO for the first-aid course.The videos, audios and booklets prepared by experts and medical practitioners will be provided to students.They will be running online due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sahu explained.
He also claimed this course did not need any kind of permission or recognition. To buttress his claim, he shared with HT, replies of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and ministry of Ayush to the Right to Information (RTI) applications he had filed, stating that the area (first-aid) does not come under their purview.
Dr Rajan Sharma, president, Indian Medical Association, which is protesting against allowing Ayurvedic doctors over 50 surgeries like allopathic doctors, said, “This does not sound like a healthy trend wherein non medical colleges are offering medical courses, even if short-term. The Indian Medical Association has also been running such training programmes for a while now. IMA is also not against Ayush systems; the body, however, has a problem with trivialising modern medicine. There should be no mixing of streams. You will end up in a mess, with our future generations suffering in the long run. It will also indirectly promote quackery.”
National Medical Commission (NMC), which has replaced MCI to regulate medical education, declined to comment since the issue was of another ministry. Sahu said FACI was registered with the ministry of corporate affairs under the Companies Act in October, a few weeks before the course was ready for promotion.
Interestingly, the university formed the First Aid Council of India, an autonomous body, which claims that it works to promote first aid treatment in India. An advertisement for the programme, featuring photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, claims FACI is opening a research centre in the university campus in Bhopal to promote national health.
FACI president Shabab Aalam declined comment through a representative.
Objecting to the course, Madhya Pradesh’s National Health Mission (NHM) additional director and former chief medical health officer (CMHO), Bhopal, Dr Pankaj Shukla, said, “The reply of Medical Council or Ayush ministry that the course doesn’t come in their purview doesn’t mean that the course can be run without their permission. The university should take permission from (the state government’s) directorate of medical education for the course and from the CMHO for running the first-aid centre because it is a medical course.”
He also said anyone opening a first-aid centre without possessing requisite qualifications would be committing a crime. “If these diploma holders start their own first-aid centre in any part of the country, they would be sent behind bars for violation of the Clinical Establishment Act. The university is promoting quackery. ”
A former faculty member of the university and now professor at Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Amravati, Anil Saumitra said the university was being forced to launch such courses to stay afloat.“The university started with a vision to promote Hindi by developing different courses in the Raj Bhasha (state language).” But because of improper planning, a programme in engineering failed to take off, he said.
“Now, the university is facing existential (financial) crises and is forced to start such courses,” he added.
Despite repeated calls and messages, vice chancellor Bhardwaj couldn’t be reached for comment.
(With inputs from Rythma Kaul in New Delhi)