Medical colleges in Rajasthan are grappling with cadaver shortage

Most state-run medical colleges in Rajasthan and across India rely on donations for cadavers
Image for representation purpose only | Pic: EdexLive
Image for representation purpose only | Pic: EdexLive

Medical college authorities have sought the Rajasthan government's permission to claim bodies of the destitute and those abandoned in shelter homes amid a crippling shortage of cadavers for students.

Medical colleges in Kota and Jhalawar are being forced to manage practical studies by grouping students together, as stated in a report by PTI. Government Medical College, Kota, is conducting practical classes for its 250 students with eight to 10 cadavers. Government Medical College, Jhalawar, on the other hand, has only six cadavers for its 200 students.

NMC guidelines

This practice, however, runs contrary to the Medical Council of India — now the National Medical Commission's — guidelines of one cadaver for 10 students. Cadavers are human bodies used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites and determine causes of death.

Most state-run medical colleges in Rajasthan and across India rely on donations for cadavers. Accepting the shortage of cadavers, Government Medical College, Jhalawar Dean Shiv Bhagwan Sharma said he wrote to the state government two months ago to request permission for claiming bodies from shelter homes.

Manoj Sharma, nodal officer of the body donation programme at Government Medical College, Jhalawar, said almost all colleges across the state, including private ones, were facing cadaver shortage. However, SMS Medical College — the biggest hospital in the state — in Jaipur and RNT Medical College in Udaipur are exceptions. Udaipur's location on the border with Gujarat enables it to acquire cadavers for students, he said.

Coordinating with shelter homes

Dean Sharma proposed coordinating with shelter homes to claim bodies of the destitute and abandoned people who die of natural causes, he said. However, the state government is yet to respond to the proposal. Sharma asserted that the situation was the same across medical colleges in the state, depriving the students of the opportunity to get a better insight into human anatomy.

Bharatpur-based NGO Apna Ghar, which provides shelter homes to the destitute and the abandoned, proposed to send bodies to medical studies and wrote to the state government for permission, he added. NGO representative Veerpal Singh said about 40 to 50 people die of natural causes in shelter homes every month and it would be fair if the bodies were used for medical studies to benefit hundreds of students.

Singh said he had sought consent from the state government for the proposal. Green activist Brijesh Vijayvergeya said around five to six quintals of wood were required to perform during last rites. Vijayvergeya said donating a body will not only benefit the students but also the environment by conserving forests.

Arushi Jain, Anatomy Department head at the Government Medical College, Kota, said only 39 bodies had been donated to the medical college since 2010. The utility of a body for medical studies is beyond imagination and it is significant for students, she said. Gopal Sharma, head of the Anatomy Department at Government Medical College, Jhalawar, said campaigns were underway to generate awareness among people about donating bodies.

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