The Union government has informed Parliament that there are no provisions in the Medical Council and Medical Commission Acts to accommodate students returning from Ukraine in Indian medical colleges.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, more than 18,000 Indian medical students studying in Ukraine were evacuated from the war-torn country and brought back home. It has been five months and, as the Russia-Ukraine war continues to rage, these Indian medical students face an uncertain future. They had sought the Centre’s help to accommodate them in colleges here.
On Friday (July 22), in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Bharati Pravin Pawar, said: “Foreign Medical Students/Graduates are either covered under ‘Screening Test Regulations, 2002’ or ‘Foreign Medical Graduate Licentiate Regulations, 2021’, as the case may be.”
“There are no such provisions in the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 & the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 as well as the Regulations to accommodate or transfer medical students from any foreign medical institutes to Indian medical colleges,” she added.
She was replying to the question “whether the government proposes to allow accommodating medical students returned from Ukraine in medical colleges in the country to enable them complete their studies; if so, the details thereof”, by Trinamool Congress MP from West Bengal, Deepak Adhikhari.
While the continuation of education remains uncertain, some steps for internships has been taken, as the minister acknowledged. “NMC (National Medical Council), for the betterment of Indian student pursuing medical studies abroad, vide circular dated 04.03.2022 has allowed foreign medical graduates with incomplete internship due to such compelling situation which is beyond their control such as War, Covid 19 etc. to complete their remaining part of internship in India subject to the condition that such candidates must have cleared FMGE (Screening Test), which is mandatory for Indian students with foreign medical qualification to practice medicine in India,” Pawar stated.
States not allowed to pitch in
Meanwhile, the NMC has taken a stand not to let states decide on allowing the students who returned from war-torn Ukraine to continue their medical education in India, according to a report.
In its reply to an RTI query by Kerala health activist Babu KV, the regulatory body for medical education said accommodating foreign medical graduates is under NMC’s consideration and no other requests will be entertained at the moment, a New Indian Express report said.
Earlier, the West Bengal government had accommodated 422 medical students who returned from Ukraine in state colleges. The Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government had allowed 394 students to undergo “observership” in different private medical colleges in Bengal from June 1.
“The observership was illegal and could set a precedent in other states. NMC is playing down the decision of West Bengal government on observership,” said Babu, according to the report.