Options across the border

Options across the border

Options across the border

Sangeetha Hakapakki, who hails from Hubli, was practising as a dentist in the UK for over two years after completing her Bachelor in Dental Surgery (BDS) degree from Bangalore. She was determined to specialise in maxillo-facial surgery, the market for which, she says, is growing by the day. The basic eligibility for the course, though, is an MBBS degree. This would be a three-and-a-half-year programme in the UK, which would cost her approx Rs 50 lakh.

“I heard of the same programme being offered for Rs 27 lakh at a private college in Nepal and dashed off my application to the Manipal College of Medical Sciences,” says Sangeetha, now a second-year MBBS student at MCOMS. “I am happy with my decision,” she adds.

Kolkata girl Gargi is another second-year MBBS student, who is “mighty pleased” with her choice of college and country.
“I was very keen on becoming a doctor but could not get into a medical college in India due to the tough competition. I did not want to waste a year, so I tried for admission at MCOMS and here I am,” she says.

Sipping coffee with Sri Lankan  classmates in the MCOMS college canteen, Gargi says: “I now have friends from different countries and I am happy with the international exposure.”

Like Gargi, students from many Asian countries who find it hard to secure admission in reputed medical colleges back home due to the intense competition, are happy that MCOMS in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal offers affordable and quality education to aspiring doctors.  

Wallet factor
“A Nepalese student pays Rs 27 lakh in Nepali currency (Rs 100 in Indian currency is equivalent to Rs 160 in Nepali currency), while an Indian students pays the same Rs 27 lakh in Indian currency,” says Dr OP Talwar, Director of Academics and Head of Department of Pathology at MCOMS.

Impressive beginnings
MCOMS was set up in 1994, following an agreement signed by the Government of Nepal and the Manipal Education and Medical Group. The college is recognised by the Medical Councils of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Mauritius. The Medical Council of India has made it mandatory for students graduating from MCOMS to clear a screening test before being eligible to practise in India.

What’s on offer
Apart from the MBBS course, MD, MS and MSc programmes are also offered at MCOMS, with English as the medium of instruction.  A BSc course in Nursing has just been launched.

For the MBBS stream, the annual intake of students is 150 — in two batches of 75 students each, with one programme that commences in January and the other in August every year.

In order to be eligible, Indian students must score at least 50 per cent marks in Physics, Chemistry and Biology in their Plus 2 examinations.  One year of internship is compulsory.
Of interest to Indian students is the fact that 12 of them are awarded scholarships of Rs 2.5 lakh each.  Six foreign students are awarded scholarships of $22,000 each while 12 SAARC students are awarded $16,500 each.
Thirty Nepalese students are also admitted annually with 100 per cent scholarship.

Fund-raising drive
A group of medical students in Nepal makes a dash to theatres in Pokhara to purchase movie tickets for the ‘first day, last show’ of a new release every once in a while. They are determined to buy as many tickets as they can — not to enjoy the film with their pals but to sell the tickets, at a small premium, to their college mates and put the profits into a fund. This fund helps poor patients who visit the hospital run by their college.
This unique fund-generating ritual is followed by every fifth semester batch of MBBS students of MCOMS.

Giving back to society
The idea of a Poor Patients Fund (PPF) was born when Padam Khadka, Prakash Joshi and Ram Hari Belbase — of the 1994 batch of MCOMS— wondered why the poor hesitated to enter the Manipal Teaching Hospital despite the availability of good facilities and the presence of qualified doctors. The treatment cost must be the stumbling block, they decided, so they started a door-to-door campaign and collected Rs 2,500 (in Nepal currency) and gave it to some needy patients. They also decided to set up a permanent fund and thus the Poor Patient Fund was born in 2000.
Sabin Pokharel, present coordinator of the fund, says: “Apart from the sale of movie tickets to friends, we also generate money for the Poor Patients Fund during the college fest.”

Prabhat Singh Rajput, a member of PPF, adds: “Funds are also generated through sale of T-shirts, badges, souvenirs or notebooks bearing the group’s name and logo. The initial investment is taken from the fund and the profits are ploughed back.”  
The poor are treated free of cost at the hospital. The fund helps in buying them medicines and food. Members of the fund visit the hospital and verify the credentials of the patient before handing over the money. The students also contribute Rs 50 a month from their pocket money.  Accounts are maintained and displayed on the college notice board.

One of the previous batches managed to generate Rs 7 lakh in six months, and every batch tries to outdo their seniors when it comes to fund mobilisation for such a worthy cause.