Make medical education cost effective

ENARADA, Bengaluru, March 20, 2016

By Guruprasad

There is also need to increase more number of medical seats in our country especially in the domain of super specialty, according to noted Bariatric surgeon and MD-Vasavi Hospital Dr Ramesh Makam.

He argues, “If we have more seats, then we will have more number of specialists. Currently, the medical education is an expensive affair. If a student completed under-graduate, post-graduate and super specialty in a private medical college, then s/he may end up spending crores of rupees. If we can make the education cheaper, then healthcare cost could also be brought down,” he said in an exclusive interview to Enarada.com

Dr. Ramesh Makam

Dr. Ramesh Makam, Bariatric surgeon and MD-Vasavi Hospital

According to Dr Makam, philanthropic needs to be incorporated into health care. Currently, innovative technology is making it expensive. However, one can’t stay without adapting to the latest technology. So, the Government should pitch in with tax rebates. The ‘Make in India’ policy can make a lot of change and bring down the expenses. Like ISI, we need to have an agency which can standardise the equipment’s manufactured in India. The other area where the costs need to be brought down is pharmaceuticals. The Government should see to that more number of generic medicines are made available. “Again, we need to have an authority to ensure that the standard and pricing is maintained. The schemes of free distribution of medicines started in some states in last few years and the proposal made for 3000 generic medicine centres by the central government in the recent budget are welcome moves. To bring medicines within the reach of common people, promotion of generic medicines, effective control of drug prices and making of the patents regime humane is necessary. To ensure the quality of medicines, they should be regularly tested in the laboratories,” he added.

Why is medical education expensive?

According to the journal of bio-medical research, the world currently spends $100 billion annually on medical education. This seems like a massive amount at a macroeconomic level. At a microeconomic level, medical school tuition fees in many countries are now as high as $14,000 per year. This will seem like a massive amount to an 18-year-old school leaver from an average financial background. Economic depressions make both figures seem even larger – to the state and to the individual. With so much cost at stake – at a financial and human level – I believe that it is worth asking why medical education is so expensive. Searching for the answers leads to some unexpected places. When a product or service is expensive, we naturally assume that this is because it costs a lot to produce or provide it. However, that is not always the case. Tuition fees are a case in point. They have risen in recent years but it may be that the rise is not a real one. The fee rises but the size of low interest student loans rises with it – logic would suggest that the rising tuition fee is necessitating the rise of the student loan – but could the opposite be happening? What would happen to house prices if the government guaranteed very low interest loans to anyone who wanted to buy a house (and said that you only needed to pay it back when you got a job)? House prices would naturally rise. Could the ubiquitous availability of very low interest loans similarly be driving inflation in tuition fees?

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