Opinion

The real issue in Vyapam

A Srinivas | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on August 10, 2015

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Rather than focus on high profile politicians, revamp MCI

The ‘Vyapam’ scam is not so much one that involves the government of the day, as the Congress and other opposition parties would have us believe, but rather one that involves the Medical Council of India (MCI). That the functioning of the MCI has not been debated in Parliament goes to show its cross-party influence. Therefore, it seems irrelevant to demand the resignation of the Madhya Pradesh chief minister without focusing on how the MCI manages medical education and practice.

Nothing much seems to have changed since the removal of MCI chief Ketan Desai on charges of corruption — the CBI pointed to his involvement in cases involving the registration of dubious private medical colleges and issue of fake medical degrees — five years ago. A degree in radiology can reportedly still be purchased for some ₹10-20 crore. The appalling lack of skills and standards in most medical colleges and hospitals, many of them promoted by politicians, is beyond dispute. A well-oiled revolving door system is in place, where aspiring doctors pay crores for a seat in such medical colleges and later join equally dubious hospitals — they could be in Devakottai, Dhanbad or Dewas.

The government and political class are heavily invested in the privatisation of health services. This is borne out by the fact that the handful of AIIMS hospitals set up across the country remain ill-equipped and poorly staffed. India’s hyper-privatised healthcare pushes innumerable families into poverty every year. Parliament discusses Vyapam, but not the core issue — the abysmal public spending on health.

There are two ways out: revamp MCI or nationalise medical education. As for the paucity of doctors, that can be no excuse for allowing colleges which may produce as many potential murderers as genuine people of medicine.

Senior Deputy Editor

Published on August 10, 2015
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