Saturday, 8 July 2006

Medical degrees awarded by foreign medical colleges

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 8: The career prospects of thousands of Indians studying medicine in China and Russia are at stake what with the Medical Council of India declining to issue them eligibility certificates.
Indian students who want to pursue medicine in medical colleges outside the country will have to first secure the "eligibility certificate" from the Medical Council of India before leaving India. After the completion of the medical degree in a foreign university, the Indian students will have to appear for a "screening test" conducted by the National Board of Examinations. Unless they qualify in the screening test, the students cannot practice medicine on Indian territory.
The MCI Act 1956 has recognised just 22 medical colleges/universities in the erstwhile Soviet Union. But it does not recognise any of the medical colleges in China. This simply means Indian students who qualify in MBBS from China are not eligible to appear for the screening test to practice in India.
Recently the Delhi High Court upheld the MCI Act 1956 while the Kerala High Court felt that Indian students qualifying from Chinese medical colleges/universities should be allowed to appear for the screening test. A batch of affected students has decided to file a petition in Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court's order.
So far, 5000 students from Andhra Pradesh have joined various medical colleges/universities in China. This is the third year of Chinese institutions opening their doors to Indian students. This year 1500 students from the State have sought admission.
"Parents and students from Andhra Pradesh are preferring Chinese medical colleges for economic reasons. The standards in China are the same as those of our colleges. In fact, the hospitals there are better equipped. In private medical colleges here one has to shell down at least Rs 40 lakh while it is just Rs 9 lakh in China," says Ch Reraju who runs EdPlus Consultants in the city.
Reraju argues that MCI cannot refuse eligibility certificates to Indian students seeking admission in Chinese medical colleges for the simple reason that the World Health Organisation has included these Chinese institutions in its World Directory of Medical Schools. "When the USA and the UK have recognised medical degrees awarded by China, why the MCI deny the facility to Indian students," he wonders.
However, MCI former member Dr CL Venkat Rao cautions students from joining bogus medical colleges. "There are colleges in Vijayawada and Kakinada which are offering medical course partly in a foreign country and partly in India. Such colleges are not recognised. The students will have to undergo the complete course in a foreign country, obtain eligibility certificate before joining the course and appear for the screening test after the completion of the course," he points out.
Dr Muhammad Habeebullah of Aspertech Education Consultants says students pursuing courses in China need not worry about MCI regulations. "Even students who pass MBBS in the USA will have to appear for the screening test in India. The screening test is not restricted to students from China it is applicable to students who pass from foreign universities," Habeebullah argues.
Indian embassy officials in China, however, have a different story to tell about the facilities in medical colleges or universities there. Recently Indian diplomats announced that there had been increasing complaints about deficient infrastructure in China.
The common complaints from students includes non-availability of properly qualified English-speaking teaching facility in some of Chinese medical colleges.

Caution to Students

1. The Medical Council of India does not recognise medical colleges in China even those listed by the World Health Organisation in its World Directory of Medical Schools. This means those who qualify from Chinese colleges will not be allowed to appear for screening test conducted by the National Board of Examinations.

2. Students who qualify from the USA, UK and listed universities in erstwhile Soviet Union are permitted to appear for the screening test. However, the pass percentage is as low as seven.

3. MCI guidelines say that to be eligible for the screening test a candidate must fulfil the following three conditions: a) Must be a citizen of India 6) Must have obtained at least 50 per cent marks in intermediate in biology, physics and chemistry and c) The medical college should have been listed in the world Directory of Medical Schools.

4. The United Nations convention 1960 calls for mutual recognition of medical degrees through screening tests by respective countries.

5. If everything goes on well India and China may go in for reciprocal agreement on recognition of medical degrees. Presently a high level Chinese delegation comprising Dr Teigen Wo and Prof Chow Zhang is in India to hold talks with MCI. An Indian delegation is scheduled to visit China later this year.

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