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Those who have read my 2011 post Creating
Gen Next Engineers would not have
been shocked by Kerala’s engineering results this year. Now it would appear
that Medical Education in Kerala too is on the slide.
According to Indian Medical
Association (IMA) (Times of India Kochi,
May 10, 2013) the doctor patient ratio in Kerala is 1:550. This compares very
well with the developed countries. Obviously, Kerala does not need more doctors. The MBBS graduates are under-utilized.
Many of them find it difficult to get well-paid jobs. Some of them are paid
lower than a driver. To survive, they have to go to remote village/hill areas.
Every year the Kerala
medical colleges turn out 2800 MBBS graduates. Additionally, there are about
1500 MBBS graduates coming in yearly from other states. Against this reality,
the State Government has announced that each district of the State would have a
medical college. If established, each one would cost about Rs.200 crores.
One can easily visualise the
amount of money and the business involved. But is that the objective? The
purpose of medical education is to turn out altruistic doctors for the benefit
of the community. They should have the required attitude, knowledge and skills.
The raw recruits have to be turned into competent doctors who have full
understanding of organ systems in the human body, the problems that such
complicated structures can face and how to correct them, and the capability to
relieve pain and reduce the suffering of patients.
This is not an easy process.
The very first requirement for a medical college, leaving aside buildings and
equipments, is a set of good teachers. Faculty recruitment and development for
a medical college is not an easy job. A good doctor need not be good teacher.
And many of them are reluctant to to shift from practice to teaching. There are
too many medical schools in Kerala now without sufficient number of competent
The proposed medical college
in Manjeri, North Kerala, is awaiting
clearance from the Medical Council of India. A major problem here is the
availability of teachers. An attempt to recruit doctors from the government
medical service failed. To get MCI clearance the government transferred the
required faculty to Manjeri from other medical colleges. Such stop-gap
arrangements have been resorted to earlier also. The damage such steps do cause
is so obvious.
A medical college needs to
have enough built up area for wards, operation theatres and so on. That is
something that money can achieve. But it is essential to have sufficient number
of outpatients with different types of diseases. Otherwise the students are
likely to come out as experts in one or two diseases only.
There is another critical
requirement which I doubt whether those who are keen on establishing medical
colleges are even aware of – the availability of cadavers. Dead bodies are
essential for the students to dissect and learn. Is enough of this input
available where medical colleges are planned? There have been reports of dead
bodies being unofficially removed from one medical college to another.
According to The Times of India Dr. G. Vijayaraghavan, former head of Cardiology Dept., Trivandrum Medical College
and a highly respected doctor has stated that we would kill the medical
education sector with more colleges like the ones which are planned.
Who cares? The Minister for
Health is keen on getting a second medical college in his constituency. The
foundation stone for this is being laid on May 19. Forget about half-baked
doctors. Votes are what matters.