GUWAHATI, May 14 � Though the Assam Government is opening new medical colleges, shortage of faculty has become a major problem, which has aggravated because of the Government�s action of keeping doctors posted in the Jorhat and Barpeta medical colleges attached to the Guwahati and Assam medical colleges. Meanwhile, the State Health Department has submitted the compliance report of the shortcomings in the Jorhat and Barpeta medical colleges to the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Government is hopeful that the Council would withdraw the notices of withdrawal of recognition of the colleges.
Senior doctors of the medical colleges told The Assam Tribune that shortage of faculty, at least at the senior level, is a major problem for the medical colleges, particularly in the new medical colleges. They were of the view that shortage of senior faculty is a problem, not only in Assam but also in some other states of the country and considering the problem, the Government should have taken time to set up new medical colleges. Opening of one medical college in five years would have been an ideal scenario, but the Government decided to open new colleges within a short span of time, which resulted in shortage of faculty, the doctors admitted.
The doctors were of the view that the MCI knows about the problem of shortage of doctors and it takes a lenient view in case of the Government-run colleges. The doctors attached in the medical colleges in Guwahati and Dibrugarh are de-attached whenever MCI inspection teams come to the other medical colleges and they are brought back immediately after the teams leave. Interestingly, the Jorhat Medical College does not have senior faculties in the crucial departments of cardiology, neurology and chest and TB. Similar is the case with the Barpeta Medical College. The new medical colleges also do not have junior doctors, which affects treatment of patients, while there have been instances where doctors on compulsory rural appointment under the NHRM are shown to be working as junior resident doctors in the new medical colleges.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma admitted that some doctors posted in the new medical colleges have to be kept attached in the Guwahati and Assam medical colleges because of �compulsions�. When asked to clarify the compulsions that the Government has, he said �the compulsions are mostly political pressure and social compulsions.� He also said that the flow of patients to the old medical colleges also forced the Government to keep senior some senior doctors attached to these colleges. He said that for the Government-run medical colleges, the MCI allows around 10 per cent shortage of faculty and Assam has around five per cent shortage. He also said that whenever MCI teams come for inspection, the doctors attached in the Guwahati and Assam medical colleges are released so that they can join the colleges where they are actually posted. He also said that there is a shortage of senior doctors in some specialized departments like chest and TB in the state.
On the issue of de-recognition of the Jorhat and Barpeta medical colleges, the Minister said that was not a major issue and the issue was not shortage of faculty. In the Barpeta Medical College, the MCI team found that there was no partition between male and female wards, while there was no diesel in a 63 KV generator. Another issue was that a homeopathic doctor attached to the college was caught writing allopathic medicines in a prescription. In the Jorhat Medical College, the issue was shortage of 55 hostel seats. �We have already dealt with the issues and sent a compliance report to the MCI. We hope that the de-recognition notices will be withdrawn soon,� he added.
Sarma further said that the Government has sought permission to start classes in the Tezpur Medical College from this year. But the MCI normally accords permission to start classes in a medical college after it functions as a hospital for one year and the Tezpur Medical College started functioning only four months back. Now it is up to the MCI to decide whether to accord permission to start classes this year, he added.