NEW DELHI: Alarmed at exorbitantly rising fee in private medical colleges across the country, the Union government has asked the board of governors (BoG) regulating medical education in India to come up with fee-controlling measures.
Officials in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the issue was raised after the Centre received a large number of complaints that a number of private colleges were charging over Rs 1 crore in cumulative fee for MBBS course.
"We have asked the BoG to look into the matter urgently and devise ways of fee regulatory mechanism," a senior official in the medical education division of the Health Ministry told this newspaper.
The BoG under Niti Aayog member Vinod Paul had replaced the Medical Council of India in September after the government scrapped it through an ordinance.
"The MCI was constantly asked to recommend ways to increase seats in medical colleges that could have ended up lowering fee charged per student but nothing came out of it," said the official. Now the BoG has been tasked with holding consultations with various stakeholders and find ways to do the same.
In June this year, Era's Medical College in Lucknow stirred particular outrage on social media as it fixed Rs 1.2 crore for an MBBS seat. Many, including public health experts and former health bureaucrats flagged the issue saying that the government is allowing "unabashed sale" of the seats in a country that is crippled with acute shortage of doctors.
Gurinder S Grewal of Association of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare said that it's high time a strict regulatory mechanism for putting a fee cap in private medical colleges be developed and if it requires making changes in the existing laws, it should be done urgently.
"When we talk about malpractices in healthcare-we also have to keep in mind that if one has to shell out such humongous amounts to become a doctor- what ethics he or she will have when they start practising," he said. "So any reform in the healthcare sector has to start with reforms in medical education and fixing a fee cap is a must."
There are about 460 medical colleges in the country offering nearly 60,000 seats and over half of them are private.