The Resident Doctors’ Association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi is opposing the directive of the Central government to raise the fees of students pursuing medical education at the institute as well as the charges levied on patients for various medical services at the hospital.
In mid-November, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare directed the Central Institute Body (CIB) of all AIIMSs in the country, to ‘review’ the students’ fees and user charges for various medical services for the patients, with the aim of raising these. It has cited “increasing cost of medical education and of diagnostic procedures and equipment” as the justification for this. At this time, there are 14 AIIMSs across the country, in addition to AIIMS Delhi.
According to a senior official of the Health Ministry, the central government has asked the AIIMS institutes to “generate at least Rs. 70-75 crore every year by charging higher fees for MBBS programs as well as for patients’ services”. By current estimates, the revenue generated by AIIMS Delhi at this time is about Rs. 2-3 crore per year. This is an indication of the huge quantum jump in fees and medical service costs that the students and patients will face, if the directive of the central government is implemented.
The Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Delhi has issued a statement opposing the memorandum issued by the administration on increasing charges. “We are against any kind of increase in the tuition fees of students and user charges for patients in all medical institutes,” the statement says. It also asserts that “Quality education and healthcare are the building blocks of our nation and we will not allow any person, organisation or the government to compromise on them in any aspect... We need educated and skilled citizens to fulfil our long-cherished dream of becoming a developed nation. This dream can be fulfilled only if both the central and state governments make quality education affordable and healthcare accessible to all citizens”.
The students union of AIIMS Delhi is also opposing the plans of the government to increase tuition fees. It has denounced the move as one designed to “make medical education inaccessible” for masses of our youth.
AIIMS Delhi is one of the topmost state funded institutions for medical education in our country as well as for high quality and specialized health care services for patients. The other AIIMSs were set up, modeled after AIIMS Delhi, with the promise that they would provide the same kind of medical education and health care services to people in various states.
The latest directive of the central government is one more sign of its systematic withdrawal from its responsibility of providing good quality and affordable education and health care to our people. It has to be seen in the context of the state policy of increasing privatization of basic services such as education and health, to provide a highly profitable market for the Indian and foreign monopoly capitalists in the education and health sectors.