Bhatt, an MBBS intern from Southern Medical University, China, says that she is taking the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) mandated for foreign-trained medicos to practise or intern in hospitals in India.
“If the government relaxes the norms and allows us, like the local MBBS students, to intern at Covid hospitals, we can help the suffering citizens of Gujarat,” Bhatt said.
“We understand there is a scarcity of staff in the makeshift Covid-19 hospitals. We do not even want any remuneration. We are ready to serve free in rural areas where the pandemic is tightening its grip in the current surge.”
In fact, members of the Indian Foreign Medical Students (IFMS) Welfare MCI Gurukul Trust have been actively lobbying the central and state governments to lower the qualifying percentage of the FMGE from the current 50% to 30% to make 1 lakh doctors available in the pandemic in one stroke.
“The qualifying percentile of NEET-PG has been lowered over the years to 30,” says Neel Bhatt, a student of Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine and a local representative of FMGs. Bhatt added: “If the government wishes, it can make a large number of medical graduates and interns available for Covid duties in rural areas.”
Bhatt went on to say: “If the Gujarat government lowers the FMGE pass percentage requirement to 30% or waives the prerequisite of clearing the Indian exam for registration, some 2,500-3,000 interns and doctors can be instantly available for posting in Covid hospitals.” FMG representatives had met health minister Nitin Patel and education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama last year to raise the issue.
Vama Patel, a medico from Southern Medical University, China, who could not clear the FMGE last year due to Covid in the family, says she is willing to do her internship in a Covid hospital gratis. “Gujarat needs doctors and we need permission to treat patients,” Patel said. “We were trained by US professors in China in the English language. We are ready for work, we just need permission.”
The FMGs said both the government and doctors will benefit in relaxing the rules at a time when governments are actively roping in students not just from medicine but also from allied fields such as ayurveda, physiotherapy, and dentistry to work in Covid facilities.