New Delhi, Nov. 2: The Centre today gave its nod to Bihar’s demand for opening a national institute of virology, on the lines of Pune’s state-of-the-art laboratory, in Patna.
Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad agreed to the proposal and asked his state counterpart, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, to present a detailed project report at the earliest.
Choubey had raised the demand for the institute during the national meet of health and medical education ministers and secretaries in New Delhi today.
The National Institute of Virology in Pune is run by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“We have been demanding a national institute of virology in the state for a long time, as in the past few years several viral diseases, including acute encephalitis syndrome and Japanese encephalitis, have been affecting our various districts. As there are no proper, national standard laboratories in the state, we have not been able to research the disease and study their pathogenesis. With the Centre’s help, we want to start a world-class laboratory in the state,” Choubey told The Telegraph on the sidelines of the meet.
The Centre will provide funds and technical assistance for the project, while Bihar will have to provide space and human resources.
The Bihar team, which was represented by state principal secretary (health) Vyasji and Choubey, also demanded that centres for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical entrance examination at the undergraduate level be increased from two to five in Bihar.
Starting from 2013, Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) will conduct NEET, a separate entrance test for admission to MBBS course in all government medical colleges.
“At present, NEET centres have been allotted to Patna and Gaya. We have requested that centres be allotted at Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur and Darbhanga, too, as Bihar has the highest number of medical aspirants. Students from neighbouring Bengal and Jharkhand will also appear at the centres in the state. Centres for common entrance test for admission to postgraduate courses in medical colleges should also be increased from one to two,” said Choubey.
The state health minister also managed to get Azad’s nod for the Medical Council of India (MCI) to inspect two proposed colleges in Pawapuri (Nalanda) and Bettiah next year. The team’s approval is necessary to start MBBS courses at the colleges.
A demand to open a centre for excellence for ophthalmology at Indira Gandhi Institute of Cardiology, Patna, with the Centre’s help also featured in the team’s long list of demands.
Choubey also asked for leverage in the state’s share of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) funds, given Bihar’s poor health indices and financial status.
“Earlier the Centre and the state used to share the burden of NRHM funds in the ratio of 85 per cent to 15 per cent respectively but the state’s share was increased to 25 per cent recently. Given our condition in the health sector, the Centre should treat our case as a special one and reduce our share to 10 per cent,” he said.