Closing sub-standard private medical colleges

MOHAMMAD Nasim, the new Health Minister has cancelled the primary approval of 12 private medical colleges, claiming ‘lapses’ in the approval process as the main cause to prompt their cancellation. While meeting the functionaries of the Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum at his office, the Minister said that he had decided to review the process in view of the gross irregularities in the approval process and shortcomings to fulfil the conditions.
We know that the former health minister AFM Ruhal Haque had given the provisional approval to those medical colleges in October last year towards the end of the previous Awami League government’s tenure. The sanction provoked sharp criticisms as the country already had 54 private medical colleges, in addition to 23 government’s run medical colleges. Reports said most of the newly approved medical colleges were owned by persons close to the ruling party.
The Director of Medical Education Prof ABM Abdul Hannan said the cancellation was ordered as “some medical colleges were not fulfilling the requirements”. Hannan had earlier led the inspections of those colleges before the primary approval was granted. After that, a proposed private medical college has to take academic approval from the Health Ministry. The final approval comes from the university authorities.
It appears quite surprising as to why a minister at the fag end of the tenure of the government ventured to give approval to so many medical colleges only to appear it quite unjustified to another minister of the ruling party who has taken over the ministry immediately on his removal from the post. It is true that the former health minister has lost credibility and also facing the probe of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on his wealth. Naturally question arises whether or not the probe also has elements related to sanctioning of the colleges.  
The report said, a hospital with at least 70 percent bed occupancy and 10 percent free beds, infrastructure for teaching basic subjects – anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, body dissection facilities, and library are some of the key requirements for primary approval. A student must have moreover a minimum 120 score out of 200 to enroll in any private medical college. The new Health Minister is reported to have turned down a request of private medical college owners to lower the enrolment score. It appears that most of these medical colleges were set up on commercial motive to admit low grade students at high admission fees ranging from Tk 10 lakhs at the minimum.
We appreciate the move of the Health Minister that he could finally get around to understanding the axiom that no education is better than poor education. Instead of turning out low quality physician from such colleges with inadequate infrastructures, the government has taken the bold step of closing these colleges which do not have proper infrastructure facilities. It could have been dangerous. This may also remove some of the stigma that the government only gives approval to colleges whose owners have close links to the ruling party. We welcome the move and hope for similar aggressive moves in all spheres of governance.