AIIMS headed for privatization?

Valiathan committee recommends private sector participation

By Sharmila Kher
Published: Friday 15 January 2010

imageOn december 8, the governing body of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (aiims) gave in-principle approval to the Valiathan Committee recommendations aimed at modernizing the functioning of the premier medical institute in Delhi. The approval was given in spite of misgivings that implementing the report would turn aiims into a commercial entity.

The committee has recommended collaboration with the private sector and introducing consultancy models similar to that of iits. Health experts said aiims is a patient based centre and cannot be equated with iits.

Some other major recommendations are: forming consortia with other research institutes to develop and commercialize products and processes prioritized by the national public health mission and providing consultancy services to industry.

Many of the recommendations are meant to retain talent and improve administration. The report has 38 recommendations. Fifteen of them underscore the importance of research either through collaboration with the industry, borrowed expertise or through incentives for meritorious research.

Though the committee headed by former head of Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences in Kerala, M S Valiathan, submitted the report to the health ministry in 2006, its recommendations were revealed to the faculty members only on December 14 this year. The Progressive Medico Scientists’ Forum that has aiims faculty members aboard said the emphasis on partnerships with industry is just a euphemism for commercialization. “Privatization has many hues; the recommendations seem to have set in motion those processes,” said Amit Sengupta of People’s Health Movement, a network of public health experts.

Not everyone is against the report. Kartar Singh, a member of the institute body and director of pgimer in Lucknow, said, “It is not objectionable if some private bodies help a public enterprise. The idea is to better the state of public health and encourage research,” he said.

Manoj Singh, president of the aiims faculty association said the association’s views will be submitted to the governing body soon. He said some of the recommendations like research incentive of Rs 10,000 are good but the money should go to departments for improving facilities.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.