‘National Medical Commission sought global body recognition after legal threat from NRI students’

In its October 31 reply, the NMC shared all the documents related to their communication, including a letter by NRI parents in December 2021. 
National medical commission. (Photo | nmc.org.in)
National medical commission. (Photo | nmc.org.in)

New Delhi, Nov 4: The National Medical Commission (NMC) patted itself on the back when it announced that it had achieved a “remarkable feat” of being granted the coveted World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) recognition status for ten years, which will help Indian medical students to pursue postgraduate training and practice in countries like the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But, an RTI reply has shown that the step was taken following a threat of legal action against NMC by parents of NRI students pursuing medical education in India. 

The reason for the threat was that NRI students would not be able to pursue PG in the US if NMC was not accredited with WFME, a global organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of medical education worldwide, a must to get admission or to become a doctor.

In his RTI on September 23, Kerala-based ophthalmologist Dr KV Babu had asked the NMC to share copies of all the communications between the Commission and WFME to get the recognition.

He also asked for the total expenditure by the NMC for WFME recognition of Indian MBBS students and file notes. 

In its October 31 reply, the NMC shared all the documents related to their communication, including a letter by NRI parents in December 2021. 

The letter, written by a Group of NRI parents, said, “It is trite that from 2024, only those who have completed their MBBS from a medical college accredited by a body, which WFME recognises, will be able to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).  The said exam is required to be taken to become a doctor in the United States. Currently, the body which does the accreditation of the medical colleges in India, i.e., the National Medical Commission, isn't recognised by WFME.” 

“It is pertinent to note that the absence of accreditation requirements will be a sheer violation of fundamental fright of the candidates pursuing the course. It will further lead to irreversible damages as they will be deprived of practising medicine in the United States; it will also lead to violation of their natural justice principles,” the letter dated December 2, 2021, said. 

It said non-compliance with the accreditation requirement “will be a huge demotivating factor and have a cascading effect on the number of NRI candidates from the USA who intend to pursue MBBS course back home in India.”

 The letter further said that if they do not hear from NMC, they “will be compelled to avail of our legal rights and remedies.” 

The RTI activist said it would have been embarrassing for NMC “If WFME accreditation was not completed before 2024.”

“It would have been difficult for Indian medical graduates to pursue studies in the US and other countries. It is clear that accreditation was done following a letter from the parents of NRI students pursuing MBBS courses in India,” he told this paper. 

“They warned NMC of legal action if the accreditation is not completed before 2024. For this, the NMC has spent over 73000 USD,” Babu said. 

As per the WFME website, 25 countries, including China, Taiwan, Ukraine, Sudan, and Thailand, apart from the US and Canada,have received recognition status for their medical colleges. 

WFME's accreditation program ensures that medical institutes meet and uphold the highest international education and training standards. 

In its September 20 press statement, NMC said the recognition “will increase the international recognition and reputation of Indian medical schools and professionals, facilitate academic collaborations and exchanges, promote continuous improvement and innovation in medical education and foster a culture of quality assurance among medical educators and institutions.” 

With NMC being WFME accredited, all the Indian students become eligible to apply for the Education Commission on Foreign Medical Education and the United States Medical Licensing Examination, the NMC further said.

“This accolade empowers our students with the opportunity to pursue their careers anywhere in the world while also making India an attractive destination for international students due to our globally recognised standards." 

However, Babu said if WFME accreditation is regarded as a certification of the quality of medical education, then Indian students doing MBBS degrees in WFME-accredited countries like China, Ukraine and Russia should be allowed to practice in our country straightaway without clearing any FMGE.”

“But despite those institutions being accredited, their performance in the FMGE of India is less than 20% most of the time,” he added.

India reserves a 15% special quota for NRI (non-Indian residents) for the students who live/study outside India but originally belong to the country. Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) are also included in the NRI Quota. 

They must take the NEET UG exam to get admission in the country, just like other Indian medical aspirants.

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