Friday, August 20, 2004

MBAs for doctors now...

Being a qualified doctor does not necessarily mean being an effective manager. This is the message that the Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare is seeking to put across now. Taking note of the managerial deficiency of medical professionals, the ministry proposes to soon launch an interdisciplinary MBA programme dedicated to those working in the healthcare industry.

To be coordinated by the Jaipur-based Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), the course is expected to be taught at various institutions, including at an IIM for management skills, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai for the social perspective and at the IIHMR in Jaipur for the healthcare aspect. A student would spend a few months at each of these institutions picking up the respective skills.

Other places that could be roped in are the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare and the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Primarily directed at professionals involved in public health programmes, IIHMR Director SD Gupta said that the degree would afford those enrolled the “necessary expertise to plan, implement and coordinate public healthcare initiatives as well as managing healthcare”.

Gupta, who has just returned after meeting senior officials in the ministry in Delhi in this respect, informed that the government was willing to fund the entire programme that is expected to cost around Rs 6 crore. “There is a huge need for professionals with managerial skills. Doctors have technical skills not managerial,” he said. “Even the job market is big. Each of the students from our last eight batches is employed,” Gupta added. IIHMR currently runs a two-year diploma in healthcare management.

Though in its infancy, the programme could start in the 2005-06 academic session. Gupta said that the idea was “very much needed”. “If we manage to identify the institutions and if the policy makers continue to support us as in the present set up, it will soon take shape,” he added. The first batch of students are not expected to be fresh ones but those who are currently employed in the public health sector.

Rameshwar Sharma, a known public health expert, said that that this move was a “basic necessity”. “Managerial techniques have been employed by certain private parties in respect to hospitals but it has not picked up in the public health sector,” he said. Terming that it was long due, he informed that the WHO Assembly had passed a resolution in 1977 to establish training institutes of management in healthcare. “It is because of the managerial techniques used that small pox was eradicated from India and the world,” Sharma added.


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