The module – for first to fifth-year undergraduate students – will help them better understand an outbreak, as well as prepare for its management in community and newer treatment protocol.
The Union government had set up a nine-member expert committee in July to draft the module.
Members of the committee said that the government has realised there is a need to prepare future doctors to understand social, legal and medical implications of an outbreak.
The module will “provide year-wise detailed protocols in training students to fulfil their role as doctor, leader and healer during difficult period of rampaging pandemic”, MCI Secretary General Dr R K Vats noted while releasing the module on August 21.
The module discusses vaccine strategy, therapeutics, infection control, outbreak management, emerging procedures, intensive care management and palliative care during pandemics. It also delves into isolation protocol and how to handle personal protective equipment.
Those involved in the expert committee said the module will be implemented from this year. Microbiology, community medicine, pharmacology, general medicine department and anaesthesiology department will together integrate the module in their subjects.
“This module will be taught in 600 medical colleges of India. With H1N1, then Ebola, and SARS, we realised there is a need to provided expansive knowledge on pandemics. Until now, our curriculum discussed pandemic without preparing doctors about its challenges,” said Dr Avinash Supe, former dean in KEM hospital and a member of the expert group.
Dr Sanjay Rai from the department of community medicine in AIIMS, New Delhi, however, said that community medicine already covers investigating a pandemic to formulate treatment protocol. “Research and methodology during pandemic is a part of the curriculum. The problem is that since pandemics are rare, MBBS students lose focus on the importance of these topics. After Covid-19, I am sure treatment protocol during outbreaks will become an integral part of learning and exams. Already, I have started inculcating more on pandemics in my sessions.”
Amid the current pandemic, several MBBS students have been trained and roped in to treat patients in Covid care centres and government hospitals.
Dr Sujata Baveja, professor and head of microbiology department at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General hospital, said that following the Covid-19 pandemic, lecturers will also lay more stress on the history of epidemics and clinical management lessons learnt from them.
“Past pandemics have been contained. This pandemic has spread beyond anybody’s anticipation. A lot in medical education will change following this,” Baveja added.
Dr Satyajit Mohapatra from SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre in Kancheepuram – which is a part of the human trial process for Bharat Biotech Covid vaccine candidate – said that until now, students were briefly taught about cholera, dengue, Spanish flu and basic management of these infections.
“We never had a detailed module. Time is ripe for detailed education on pandemics and integrated efforts by general medicine and community medicine departments. The last big pandemic was a century ago, a lot has changed since,” he added.
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