Central government has decided to revive the Post MBBS Diploma 2-year courses owing to the shortage of specialist doctors in district hospitals across the country. These diploma courses can be pursued by MBBS graduates by clearing their National Eligibility entrance Test (NEET)-PG entrance examination. According to the centre, hospitals containing a minimum of 100 operational beds are eligible to conduct the 2-year diploma courses. However, in order to do so, they must seek accreditation with the National Board of Examination (NBE).
NBE is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health. It is responsible for introducing the post-MBBS Diploma courses in eight broad specialities. They are ophthalmology, paediatrics, family medicine, anaesthesiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, radiodiagnosis, ENT and, tuberculosis and chest disease.
In 2019, the Medical Council of India (MCI) had declared the conversion of its diploma courses into degree ones due to lack of teaching faculty in the country. This discontinuation created a void in the number of diploma courses available for graduates. According to an NBS official, the health ministry asked the NBE to overcome this void by looking into the possibility of launching diploma courses. All this would be done under the guidance and supervision of NBE. Adding to this, Professor Pawanindra Lal, the Executive Director of NBE, said, “It was imperative to increase the number of hospitals catering to the medical requirements in rural, semi-urban areas and tier-two and tier-three cities in the country.
MCI conducted multiple consultations with the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and the health ministry. Thus, a blueprint was prepared for conducting diploma courses in India. The launch for the same was notified on August 20, 2020. Diploma courses curated by NBE are approved by the Union Health Ministry and are included in the first schedule of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, vide a gazette notification dated August 6.
Speaking on the subject of revival of diploma courses, Professor Lal said that he hopes these courses will provide the required manpower to district hospitals. It will improve the readiness of district and sub-district hospitals to provide effective healthcare facilities during situations like the COVID19 pandemic. He further added that the highest priority will be given to the government and district hospitals.
The NBE director said that the diploma courses related to verticals of anaesthesiology, chest disease, tuberculosis and family medicine has the ability to provide trained manpower to the community to deal with epidemic-like situations. Courses in paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology will improve the reproductive and child healthcare systems in our country. This will play a key role in reducing both maternal and infant mortality rates.
Entry to these diploma courses shall be through the NEET-PG examination under the Medical Education Regulations implemented by the MCI. Furthermore, 50% of the NBE diploma seats will be reserved for the candidates within the concerned state. This shall reduce the dependency of districts on tier-I cities for healthcare facilities.