The picturesque land of Mauritius has something more to offer now. Come August 1999 and the country will see the opening of its first medical college, 10 kms south of its capital, Port Louis, courtesy the Indian Ocean Medical Institute Trust. The country's economy, which has a thriving tourism industry along with sugar and textiles to its credit, is making a foray into the education sector, offering students abroad the choice to pursue medicine in Mauritius.
Named after the first prime minister of Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the medical college will cater to students hailing from the Indian Ocean rim countries, including India, Indonesia, Kenya and South Africa, among others. The college is affiliated to the University of Mauritius.
The chairman of the trust, R P N Singh, who is a former civil services officer, said the project was envisaged way back in 1995 by a group of Indians led by him. The spadework for the project began right away and the project was announced by the prime minister ofMauritius, Navin Ramgoolam, during his visit to India in August 1996.
On the role of the Mauritius government in the project, Singh said that the project was presented to the Mauritius health ministry in March 1996, where it received an enthusiastic response. After the finalisation of the modalities, the project was forwarded to Ramgoolam. The prime minister appreciated the idea for two reasons: Students in Mauritius face great difficulties in getting admission overseas and education in Western universities is very expensive. After the prime minister's nod, his think-tank got moving on the project.
The project got immense support from the Mauritius government, which provided 18 acres of the land for the college at a location that was once a beautiful tea estate. The campus comes with an existing 60,000-square-foot building and has two rivulets flowing through it. With the major inputs provided by the government, the total cost of the project was Rs 80 crore.Singh lists what he thinks are the threerequirements for a good medical college: A good hospital to cater to the clinical requirements of the students Up-to-date and state-of-the-art equipment The best faculty possible
The Medical Council of India has stipulated the norm of a 700-bed hospital for a college of 100 students. The government of Mauritius, on the other hand, has provided clinical training facilities of 1,500 beds covering all specialities for 120 students. The health ministry is providing access to all the equipment and facilities in the hospitals where the students will be trained, he pointed out.
Moreover, an International Advisory Committee, comprising the representatives of authorities in medical education and set up by the Mauritius government, studied in depth the project, the system of education the trust intended to adopt and the MCI norms. In its report, the committee has said that what has been proposed meets global standards. The project was approved only after the committee okayed it.
Singhexplains that Mauritius was selected for the project because it is like a mini-India. World-class training in the island nation's exquisite ambience would definitely be an added advantage, he says. The college will also provide a unique interaction for the students of various countries.Elaborating on the curriculum for the college, Singh pointed out that the course will be along the lines enunciated by the Medical Council of India. This is because a major chunk of the students are expected from countries like India, South Africa, Gulf countries and Malaysia. The MCI curriculum is prevalent and recognised in all these countries. It is pertinent to note here that a degree recognised by the Medical Council of India is accepted all over the world, too, he says.
The course, however, will be for a duration of five years as against the four-and-a-half years stipulated by the MCI. This is because the curriculum also incorporates courses in information technology and communication skills--both considered vital formedical students in the changing global scenario. These courses are part of the curriculum of the General Medical Council of England.
Another USP of the institution is the fee structure, which is much lower than what education costs in Western countries. Rather, the cost here is on par with the fee structure prevalent in India; the fee for the full course is approximately Rs 22.5 lakh, which is the limit set by the Supreme Court of India.
The institution is all set to scout for the best brains in medicine in India to join its faculty in the coming weeks. Singh pointed out that the institution is planning to hire an Indian faculty with international exposure. The faculty for information technology and communication skills will, however, be recruited from the international market. According to Singh, the remuneration will match the best in the world.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.