Published: 20th June 2022
West Bengal relaxes norms for medical students back from Ukraine, activists say this could "set a bad precedent"
The State government had urged the NMC to accommodate the returning students for ensuring the continuation of their education
The West Bengal government’s decision to allow medical students who had returned from war-torn Ukraine to continue studies by offering them ‘observership’ in colleges in that State has raised eyebrows as it would have far-reaching consequences in other states.
The Mamata Banerjee-led government allowed 394 students who had been studying in medical colleges in Ukraine to undergo "observership" in private medical colleges in the State from June 1. It would allow the students to attend practical classes and see patients, which a health activist said was illegal. Moreover, the state government took the decision before the National Medical Commission (NMC), the regulatory body for medical education in the country, could frame a national-level policy as mandated by the Supreme Court.
“The observership arrangement is illegal and can set a bad precedent. The students might not be treating the patients. However, a situation where students who have no legal mandate will be able to see patients is a violation of the system. It will compromise patients’ rights,” said health activist Dr Babu K V. He demanded the intervention of the NMC, saying it should cancel the registrations of medical colleges that allow observership to foreign medical graduates.
NMC responded to Babu’s RTI query, saying the issue concerning foreign medical graduates was under its consideration as per the apex court’s orders. A copy of the communication between NMC and the West Bengal government in March was also accessed by Babu.
In it, the State government had urged the NMC to accommodate the returning students for ensuring the continuation of their education.
“However, the government, while acknowledging the NMC’s role, jumped the gun and took a unilateral decision,” alleged Babu.
Around 18,000 medical students returned to India from Ukraine. All the returnees have been hoping for a national-level policy that would allow them to continue their studies in India. While various states have taken an empathetic approach towards the concerns of the students and parents, the SC has tasked the NMC to take a call on the matter by June 29.