The Foreign Medical Graduate community have raised their voice after PMO allowed all medical aspirants of India to serve the nation, but have left the Foreign Medical Graduates out of this. As per the facts available, there are almost 20,000 Foreign Medical Graduates in the nation who are seating ideally but are on their toes to serve their motherland as COVID-19 frontline workers.
On May 3, 2021, the PM authorised keys decisions to boost availability of medical personnel to fight COVID-19. This included:
A) Medical Interns to be deployed in Covid Management duties under the supervision of their faculty.
B) Final Year MBBS students can be utilized for teleconsultation and monitoring of mild Covid cases under the supervision of the Faculty.
C) B.Sc./GNM Qualified Nurses to be utilized in full-time Covid nursing duties under the supervision of Senior Doctors and Nurses.
However, there was no provision mentioned for the FMG community.
Recently, The National Medical Commission (NMC) has also released draft regulations on Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs). The draft says that the foreign medical graduates will have to qualify in the National Exit Test (NExT) within two years of completing the MBBS from abroad. As per the new draft regulations for FMGs, a person willing to practice in India after obtaining primary Medical qualifications has to qualify for the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) until the National Exit Test (NExT) becomes operational.
Also, the National Exit Test (NExT) examination will be merged with FMGE and, as per the NMC draft regulations, NExT will consist of NExT Step 1 and NExT Step 2. For FMGs, the first step will include an additional paper to assess the knowledge of pre and para-clinical subjects. Foreign Medical Graduates are required to qualify the screening test 1 in India (FMGE/NExT) within two years of completing the MBBS abroad.
Now that draft restricts 2 types of medical students abroad to service in India. First, students who have completed their senior secondary education in India and are pursuing MBBS abroad, and second, those who have completed their senior secondary education and MBBS abroad.
Eminent doctors and the FMG community have opposed the draft. In addition to no provision available for them to serve their own motherland from the PMO, the NMC draft is seen as “discrimination” towards them.
The FMG community has come up with suggestions for the Government of India. They believe that in India, with cases crawling up to 4 lakh new cases per day, the Government should focus on deploying as many human resources as they can.
A few of the suggestions from the community are:
First, the Government of India can come with a proposal that can allow employment of the FMG seating ideally at home. Many FMG are unable to practice medicine in India but are practicing abroad. Some FMGs had to leave their internship in the middle and come back to their motherland due to COVID-19. They are now in the nation, but not able to help as the system does not allow them. Wherever possible, such FMGs can be employed on a contract basis at least for 1 year. Based on their performances, any future decision can be taken for them.
Second, the FMG community also argued, there are students who could not clear the cutoff marks in the Medical Council of India Screening Test, also known as Foreign Medical Graduates Examination 1 or 2 marks. But there are many out of them, many are exceptionally working well in countries like Russia and German. The community believes that it is time that the GOI think about this and utilise these FMG in this time of need. It is believed that if the pas percentage for FMGE is lowered to 30% or waived off, then some 2,500-3,000 interns and doctors can be instantly available for posting in Covid hospitals.
Third, another factor that the FMG community has put forward is that the situation in rural areas of India is not well. Many hospitals do not have doctors. Why not pull every available human resource. FMGs have shared their helplessness, as these are the part of those medical students like in India, who have studied for 6 years and can lend their help to the needy.
The community went on expressing their concern saying that if the Indian government is putting faith in the abroad materials like vaccines, oxygen supplies, ventilators, etc., then why not in the FMGs.
Currently, the state government of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu has received a plea from the Foreign-trained medicos in this regard. The decision is awaited.