UNION HEALTH MINISTER ASSURES CBCI DELEGATION ALL HELP IN THE MATTER OF ST. JOHN’S MEDICAL COLLEGE SEATS
A delegation led by Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX, Secretary General, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and comprising of Fr Paul Parathazham, Director, Mr. George D’Souza, Dean, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore and Fr Jervis D’Souza, Deputy Secretary General, CBCI met Mr. Jagat Prakash Nadda, Union Minister for Family and Health at Nirman Bhavan, New Delhi, on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 in connection with the reduction of seats at St John’s, Bangalore.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas after introducing the team to Union Health Minister, thanked him and the Government for the initiatives taken by the Government to improve health care in the country. He told the Minister that the poor, the dalits and the tribals are especially close to the heart of the Catholic Church. In this regard, the Secretary General pointed out to the Minister that St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences specially had reserved seats for these categories. He also highlighted the fact that St. John’s was the first Medical Institution in the country that had begun the practice of compulsory rural bond of two years for its students. He then conveyed the distress of the Catholic Bishops about the recent reduction of the seats for MBBS courses at the St. John’s Medical College.
Mr. George D’Souza and Fr. Paul Parathazham explained to the Minister that for the past 2 years St. John’s had been allotted 150 seats for MBBS. In the third year, the Medical Council of India (MCI) conducted inspections last year. Two inspections took place on the same day of the same hospital, one by a team for MBBS and another by a team for Post Graduate Courses. While both MCI team inspections found all facilities at St. John’s to be excellent, there was a discrepancy in the two reports about the bed occupancy at the Hospital, with both teams inspecting the same areas of the hospital contemporarily. St. John’s had immediately raised the red flag about this discrepancy to the Health Ministry and the MCI had sent a repetition of the Inspection immediately and found everything was in order. However, St. John’s was not allowed the usual 150 seats open for admission. The College was given permission for only 60 seats.
The Minister was fully aware of the situation. He praised St. John’s for its admirable services and said the Government was very interested to help the Institution. However, the resolution of the matter was a little complicated because it had become a judicial matter as there were a number of colleges involved and the matter was in the Supreme Court. But he assured that his Ministry would do everything possible within the law in the given situation to help. He further explained that there were 7 more colleges which were not granted the due permission. The matter was with the Supreme Court and a settlement was sought to arrive in the near future.
Shri Nadda asked the delegation to meet Mr. Arun Singhal, IAS, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, for all the technical details. In the meeting it was learnt that the Government had asked the MCI to review about 50 medical colleges. From that only 15 were chosen at random. Permission for 8 colleges were not considered while 7 (including St John’s, Bangalore) was permitted by the MCI.
Meanwhile two colleges had appealed to the Supreme Court and the hearing was scheduled to be held shortly. The Government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court. Mr Singhal assured that if and when the Court would give its verdict, the Government would make a decision for all the 7 colleges and not just one college.
The Minister and the Additional Secretary commended the great work the Christian Community was doing in the area of health for the whole nation. It was informed that the entire Health Ministry was very positive and optimistic that this permission should be granted quickly so as not to deprive the poor, the tribals, the dalits and the minorities from benefiting from the good education provided at St John’s.
Bishop Theodore while thanking the Minister and the Additional Secretary once again placed before them the urgency of reinstating the 150 seats of St. John’s.
Fr. Jervis D’Souza
Deputy Secretary General, CBCI