NEW DELHI : Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, a practising doctor, has asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) to tweak the existing 3-year medical post-graduation course to include a year-long mandatory village posting.

He said the decision will address shortage of medical practitioners in the rural areas. “We have brainstormed on the issue and decided that a medical student in PG must spend a year in villages” by tweaking the UPA government’s policy of one-year rural posting for MBBS graduates as an eligibility to write the PG exam. “All stakeholders resisted the previous decision and hence the change, Dr Vardhan said after a presentation of 100 days of achievements of the Modi government in the health sector. He said the compulsory rural posting decision will be rolled out as early as the next year, noting that the previous decision had made it difficult for the graduates to work in villages while concentrating on clearing the PG test. Better if they spend a year in rural areas after they are already enrolled for PG.

India produces 50,000 MBBS graduates every year and around 25,000 of them go for the PG studies. The new policy will ensure that there is a doctor in each of the 25,000 public health centres, Dr Vardhan added.

SINGLE ENTRANCE TEST: He is also toying with the idea of a single entrance test for the MBBS in all medical colleges across the country, but the final decision will be taken only after the Supreme Court decides on a pending petition.

A single test will save time and money to the candidates who have to otherwise appear in separate tests in each university and each state. Dr Vardhan said many medical colleges were opposed to the National Eligibility- cum-Entrance Test (NEET) because they will not be able to sell the medical seats but they have ultimately fallen in line. Most of the state governments have also accepted the common test.

The Health Minister also announced that it was reviewing the functioning of the MCI, th apex regulatory body embroiled on controversies about corruption. Effort is to regulate the medical education and curb malpractices by doctors, he said.

ADMISSIONS: Meanwhile, a Supreme Court ruling has brought cheers to the MBBS aspirants as it allows even those private medical colleges seeking increase in their intake capacity to admit students in the MBBS course this year, but with an undertaking to the MCI that they will be subjected to a fine of Rs 10 crore if the claims made by them at the time of application for increased seats are found false in the inspection later.

The interim order passed by the Bench of Justices A R Dave, Vikramjit Sen and U U Lalit also lays down certain conditions in addition to an earlier direction given on September 18.

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