Sheer negligence of its authorities nearly cost the Goa Medical College 26 postgraduate degree course seats. A month ago the Union ministry of health and family welfare offered upgradation of the PG diploma courses to degree courses. What the GMC authorities needed to do was to send an acceptance letter within the stipulated time. As the country faces acute shortage of specialists the Centre’s plan is to increase their number by upgrading diploma courses in medical colleges in different states. GMC students were thrilled on learning about the offer of the central government and were hoping to benefit from the Centre’s plan. However, their joy was short-lived as the GMC authorities slept over it. Rather than grabbing the opportunity the GMC authorities began to find deficiencies of one kind or another in their college infrastructure and faculties, fearing they would not qualify for the PG degree courses on offer. Investigation done by this newspaper found that the deficiencies were exaggerated. Besides, there was enough time for minor deficiencies, if any, to be remedied. It is only after the media report that the GMC authorities have now woken up to do what they should have done a month ago.
Investigation has found that Pradeep Naik, the dean of GMC, got concurrence of Health Secretary J Ashok Kumar for not taking the Union health ministry’s offer by pleading that the college lacked the facilities required for the PG courses. Fingers were pointed at the professor in charge of academics section, though decision on addition and upgradation of courses rests solely with the dean. The students on the other hand claimed that the dean told them that the offer of the Centre was not accepted on the advice of the Health Secretary. If that is the case Health Minister Vishwajit Rane needs to order an inquiry and take the person guilty of negligence to task. As for the dean, this is yet another negative case of his administration. He has earned negatives on setting up of State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation, disposal of bio-medical waste, pathetic condition of the morgue and other issues in the recent past. The Health Minister must reevaluate GMC if the college is losing out on important things for lack of vision, energy and action.
It is amazing to note that the reason given for not accepting the offer of the Union health ministry was deficiencies in the GMC. The GMC is already offering PG diploma courses in the subjects that were to be upgraded and as such it already has the required infrastructure and faculties. Even if there were deficiencies, the same were not to be fulfilled in obtaining the approval from the central authorities to start the courses. The GMC could have given its acceptance and then rectified the noted deficiencies at a later stage. There have been several occasions in the past when the GMC availed of opportunities and upgraded courses and rectified the shortcomings later. Under normal circumstances the checks for infrastructure and faculty is carried out when the first batch appears for PG examination and on satisfaction of the inspection authorities the recognition for the course is given. In such a situation the GMC had three years to comply with the requirements. It is surprising to note that GMC sought approval of the central authorities in starting PG course in cardiology when it had gross deficiencies. The college applied not once but thrice to get approval for cardiology course and failed.
The GMC can still get the approval from the central authorities to upgrade the courses, provided the Health Minister and health secretary pursue the matter with the Union Health Minister and officials. GMC authorities have are believed to have sent a letter accepting the offer and are taking steps to fulfill the criteria required before the approvals for upgradation of the courses are issued by the central authorities. The Health Minister has a crucial role to play in the issue by urging the central authorities to condone the delay in accepting the offer. Getting more specialist doctors would benefit the state as a large number of posts of specialists in the GMC and health department have remained unfilled for non-availability of qualified doctors. The focus of the authorities is to get more and more doctors trained, particularly in different specialties in order to meet the growing demand. Any increase in the PG intake quota will help more students to benefit as MBBS seats were increased earlier. It is time that GMC authorities gave up their slowcoach approach to improve health education and healthcare.