Foreign medical graduates' claim govt planning to scrap screening test
CHENNAI: For several months, members of the All India Foreign Medical Graduates' Association had been running a campaign urging the Union health ministry to scrap the mandatory screening test. On Wednesday, they claimed that the government was considering scrapping such tests. Union health ministry officials, however, said there were no such plans.
All India Foreign Medical Graduates' Association chief patron Dr Ameer Jahan said the report by a 12-member committee on the "task force for setting up a national council for human resources in health" has recommended that an exit examination should replace the screening test and it should be made mandatory for all graduates of unrecognised foreign medical institutions. "This would mean those who study in recognised foreign institutions don't have to write it. Those from registered universities can practise after registering in India. We know the government is considering it seriously," he told journalists.
Medical Council of India officials, however, denied any such plan. "This report isn't new. There is no consideration to cancel the test so far," said a Delhi-based MCI official. The MCI the country's regulatory authority for medical education now makes it mandatory for all graduates of medical colleges in countries like Russia to appear for a screening test conducted by the National Board of Examinations.
Union health ministry reports show that only one in five students who received foreign medical degrees and appeared in the screening test qualified this year. In 2011 and 2010, only 26% medical students qualified, while the corresponding figure in 2009 was 16.2%.
Earlier this month, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said there was no plan to review the test as it had proved effective in maintaining standards. Since 2002,students who had studied medicine abroad have had to appear for the screening test. Only those clearing it get certificates from the state medical council permitting them to do a year-long internship in a university or hospital in the state. So far, the highest pass percentage has been 50%in 2005.Pass percentages have varied from a dismal 9%in 2003 to 27%in 2011.
Dr Jahan has been urging the government to scrap the test as more than 10,000 medical graduates were jobless as they haven't cleared the screening test. "These tests are tough and needless. If they scrap this the country will have many more doctors," he said