BHUBANESWAR: The State Government’s much proclaimed “Best Quality Health For All in Odisha” is turning out to be more hype than substance. In its overdrive to establish new medical colleges to extend advanced healthcare as well as augment doctors’ strength in the State, the Government seems to have completely forsaken the most vital aspect of ensuring high standards of education. Odisha is a curious case in the country where medical colleges are not only governed by general universities but at the same time each is affiliated to a different university.
All this continues while the Odisha University of Health Sciences (OUHS), proposal of which was finalised way back in the early 2000s, has inexplicably fallen into oblivion. The State today has five medical colleges with two more starting admissions from the current academic session. Besides, it has around three private medical colleges and two dental colleges - one Government and one private, around 18 pharmacy institutions and 14 nursing colleges.
Bewildering as it is, each medical college is affiliated to a separate university. According to sources, this disparity has cast a shadow over efforts for achieving high standards of medical education and consequently, better healthcare service delivery in the State. Different university affiliation means separate syllabi, academic calendar, examination process and evaluation. This singularly fails the objective of a robust and forward looking medical education system, they stated.
“Medical education is not general education. When the Government constituted Biju Patnaik University of Technology for technical education in 2002, its indifference to the highly specialised field of medical education is beyond understanding. Uniformity in academic activities, monitoring, promoting research and innovations is key to achieving high standards in medical education which can be possible only through an exclusive university like Health University,” president of Odisha Medical Teachers Association (OMTA) Prof B Pradhan said.
The process for establishment of OUHS had been initiated since early 2000s. The draft by-laws and rules were finalised by an expert committee and submitted to the Government in 2005. It was only left for the Act to be passed in the State Assembly for OUHS to come into being. Almost one and a half decades on, it is yet to see the light of the day.
With new medical colleges opened at a frantic pace, the State is all set to produce over 1000 doctors per year. The OUHS, thus, has become imperative to ensure quality doctors coming out of every college. It would govern all streams of medical education, alternative medicine, paramedical and medical technology. “The Health Secretary has assured OMTA of creation of OUHS after certain bottlenecks are removed soon. We are hopeful,” Prof Pradhan said.