Health ministry wins turf war with HRD

Health ministry wins turf war with HRD

 The two-year-old wrangling between the health and human resource development ministries on regulating the cash-rich medical education sector has finally ended in favour of the health ministry.

The expert groups from both ministries along with top officials in the Prime Minister’s Office have decided that the National Commission for Human Resources on Health (NCHRH) would regulate the medical education sector, sources told Deccan Herald.

 The NCHRH will lay the standards for the entire spectrum of medical education – doctors, nursing and paramedical education.

The National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), floated by the Union HRD ministry, on the other hand, will chart the course for medical research. It would also be allowed to pursue innovative medical education programmes such as launching new MD or PhD courses, they said.

The NCHER will frame a research guideline, to bring in uniformity in research. All research proposals, including that of health, will be guided and prioritised by the Board for Research Promotion and Innovation, under NCHER, without prejudice to other funding agencies like Indian Council of Medical Research and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The BRPI will have representatives from other ministries involved in research.

Both bills would now be redrafted to accommodate the linkage provisions, before they are brought to the Union Cabinet for approval, an official said. 

The row began when HRD ministry proposed the NCHER bill to regulate the entire spectrum of higher education, including medical and legal education.Refusing to part with medical education, the health ministry went ahead with its plan to set up the NCHRH, announced by President Pratibha Patil in her address to Parliament after UPA-II came to power in May 2009.

The NCHRH was proposed as a part of the government's plan to clean up Medical Council of India and make medical education more transparent and corruption-free in the wake of its failure to amend the legislation governing MCI.

The health ministry argued that it needed to keep medical education under its purview because the number of doctors India needs is linked to the health care service the government wants to provide to the citizen. But the HRD had its own rationale to trigger the tussle.

So severe was the turf war between the departments that the PMO had to finally intervene. TKA Nair, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, chaired all the three meetings of the two expert groups in the last two months nudging them towards the resolution.

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