NEW DELHI: Will Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) soon start producing doctors? The health ministry is meeting on Tuesday to decide. Health secretary K Sujatha Rao has called a meeting of top ministry honchos, directors of medical institutes and chairmen of medical councils on Tuesday to ascertain whether allowing institutes like IITs to teach medicine will "help medical education or dilute its quality". This will be the first major meeting to discuss the issue.
Those called to attend include directors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, PGI (Chandigarh), Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute (Lucknow), JIPMER, NIMHANS, National Institute of Communicable Diseases, National Institute of Paramedical Sciences and principal of CMC Vellore.
Chairmen of the Medical Council and the Nursing Council of India will also attend the meeting along with eminent doctors like Dr Ranjit Roychoudhury, Dr Devi Shetty, Dr Anupam Sibal and cardiologist Dr K Srinath Reddy, who is also chairman of the National Board of Examinations.
The all important meeting will discuss three major issues: whether IITs be allowed to start MBBS course, how to create the National Council for Human Resource in Health (NCHRH) — the overarching regulatory body that would replace the existing Medical, Dental, Nursing and Pharma Councils of India — and how to reduce shortage of medical personnel in India.
A health ministry official said, "We want to meet experts to understand whether it is feasible to allow IITs to start medical courses and whether it will help better medical education. Once we know their view, the ministry will form its opinion on the proposal and send it to the HRD ministry."
Opinion is clearly divided on the proposal. However, the MCI has come out in support. Speaking to TOI, MCI chairman Dr Ketan Desai said, "We welcome the move. We know that if IIT starts a medical school, they will have the same standard as their other courses. They will ensure they have the best faculty as their reputation will be at stake."
Some IITs, like Kharagpur and Hyderabad, are working on starting medical schools in about three years.
Ministry officials said IIT Kharagpur has supposedly signed an MoU with University of California, San Diego, to set up a hospital which will offer graduate, post-graduate and research programmes in medicine and bio-medical engineering. IIT Hyderabad has been expressing its interest to offer MD degrees in three years.
In recent meetings with IIT directors, HRD minister Kapil Sibal had asked them to expand their courses and not just offer engineering courses. The railway ministry, meanwhile, has said it will provide land for the hospital which IIT Kharagpur plans to build after receiving permission from the health ministry.