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More overseas MBBS holders rush to join national pool of doctors

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More overseas MBBS holders rush to join national pool of doctors
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New Delhi: Ukraine situation has picked out foreign MBBS holders from those who studied in India, with the former showing sharp increase over the years.

Few expected their numbers could be so staggeringly high, as each year added more of them to the pool of doctors in the nation.

However, fewer number of foreign-educated MBBS holders make to the national pool as they have got to clear the qualifying Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE).

Records point at a three-fold rise in candidates taking the mandatory exam in the last five years, Indian Express reported. They cannot practise in India without qualifying in the examination, which is rather off-limits to most of them who struggle to clear it.

The National Board of Examination (NBE) that conducts the exam says those taking the test rose from 12,116 in 2015 to 35,774 in 2020. This rise is noted, nevertheless India added about 30,000 fresh medical seats of late.

Overseas medical graduates can take FMGE, held twice a year, three times; most of the students who try the test come after graduating from China, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan.

In 2020, 12,680 graduates from Chinese universities appeared for the examination. This was followed by 4,313 graduates from Russia, 4,258 from Ukraine, 4,156 from Kyrgyzstan, 3,142 from the Philippines, and 2,311 from Kazakhstan, Indian Express reported.

The percentage of those who passed the FMGE test over the last five years stands at 15.82; of them, Ukraine-graduated ones is at 17.22 per cent.

The latest of the nations where India students increasingly go to is Philippines, marking a ten-fold rise since 2015. One reason according to sources is medical graduates from Philippines performed better in FMGE with 33.7 per cent clearing the test in 2020, 50.2 per cent in 2019. The fact of the medium of study being English could also be an incentive for the switch.

Many reasons contribute to the increasing number of Indians seeking MBBS overseas. It's market forces. Rising population and increasing demand for medical care under the dual burden of disease — communicable and non-communicable. "In India, we did not expand very fast by advance planning and policy has been, by and large, reactive to the rising demand," the report quoted former Health Secretary Sujatha Rao as saying.

To over 16 lakh students who took national qualifier NEET-UG, there were just 83,000 MBBS seats nationwide. To meet WHO's doctor-patient ratio of 1:1000, India requires 1.38 million doctors. "The National Health Profile 2021 states that there are 1.2 million registered medical practitioners in the country," the report says.

Hence the Indian students rush to overseas universities; alongside the cost of education in Ukraine is more appealing to Indians, compared to huge fees for private colleges back home. It takes just about Rs 15 to 20 lakhs for the six-year course in Ukraine whereas in India it is between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1.5 crore for 4-5 years course.

Experts want to regulate the fees more favourable to students, making medical education philanthropic, rather than turning it into a money-spinner for some.

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TAGS:Overseas MBBS Ukraine-Russia war 
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