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News: Health ministry rejects MCI proposal on UG medical degrees from six English-speaking nations

NEW DELHI: All doctors, who have an undergraduate medical degree from abroad, will have to appear for a screening test before they can practise in India.

This rule will also apply for Indian doctors with post-graduate (PG) medical degrees from the UK, the US,Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.

Doctors with an UG degree from India and a PG degree from these six countries have been allowed by the Union health ministry to practise in any public or private hospital in India. They can also be a faculty member in any medical college without appearing for a screening test.

On Monday, the Medical Council of India ( MCI) proposed that those who have an UG medical degree from these six English-speaking countries should also be allowed to work in India without appearing for a screening test.

However, Union health secretary K Chandramouli rejected the proposal.

Dr Ranjit Roychoudhury, MCI’s governing body (GB) member, said, "We had asked the government to relax the rules of appearing for a screening test for senior doctors with a lot of medical experience from these countries since their PG degrees are already recognized. But the suggestion was not accepted. The screening test will remain universal."

GB member Dr Sita Naik added, "With so many hospitals coming up in India, which already faces an acute shortage of trained medical manpower, we suggested relaxing the rules of the screening test for these countries. We felt it wasn’t appropriate for senior, established doctors from these countries to be asked to appear for a screening examination if they wanted to work in India."

However, another GB member Dr Devi Shetty said, "We’ll submit a proposal on Tuesday on how the government can allow selective screening. The proposal has not been shelved yet."

Union health ministry had recognized PG medical degrees from these six countries in 2007, which allowed a lot of Indian doctors settled abroad to return home. Prior to 2007, India didn’t recognize the PG degree from these countries as recognizing it was a reciprocal gesture.

India had only recognized PG degrees of countries that acknowledged India’s PG qualifications, like Ireland, Bangladesh and Nepal. Then health secretary Naresh Dayal had said, "This move will see a large number of Indian doctors return home to work. Many will come on sabbaticals for a short stint in teaching or even practise in public or private hospitals."

Experts were also optimistic about the initiative. ‘India is increasing its number of PG seats and medical institutes are offering PG degrees. Six new AIIMS-like institutions are coming up. All these will require specialized faculty, which won’t be available from the present pool. That’s why we are trying to remove all barriers for Indian doctors to return to India."

India faces a severe shortage of doctors. There is one doctor per 1,634 people in the country.

Collected from: Times of India News Paper

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