Nagaland’s first medical college in Kohima to finally see light of day

Kohima: Tucked away from the busy Kohima town, about 5 km away at Phriebagie, the Nagaland Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (NIMSR) – the state’s first medical college – is finally set to see the light of day as it received approval from the National Medical Commission(NMC) to establish the new medical college.

Health minister Paiwang Konyak on Wednesday announced that a ‘letter of intent’ (LOI) was received from the NMC’s Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) for 100 MBBS seats for the academic session 2023-24.

Addressing a press conference at the NIMSR conference hall, Konyak, said that the state received the letter on Tuesday and that it will respond with an acceptance letter in a week’s time. This is as per the NMC directive to enable the MARB to issue the ‘Letter of Permission’ (LOP) for the academic year 2023-24 where no student should be admitted till formal permission is received from MARB.

“It is a great and historic day for the people of Nagaland to start the Medical college after 60 years of statehood,” Konyak said. As work at the medical institute is in progress, the health minister encouraged the engineering wing to ensure the completion of the works by May 31 to facilitate admissions for the new academic session.

The latest development comes after the NMC paid a surprise visit to the institute on March 27 following which it was impressed, said Commissioner and Secretary to Health and Family Welfare, Kikheto Sema.

He informed that earlier this year on January 10, the MARB paid a surprise visit to NIMSR during which the board was not satisfied with the infrastructure and subsequently issued a show cause notice on February 6.  

The state government then submitted an agreement, affidavit and compliance report on February 7 stating that all required infrastructure, manpower, equipment, teaching hospital, and so on, will be ready by May 31. Then from February 14-15, interviews to recruit faculty members were conducted where 19 were selected out of 48 applicants. In this regard, 17 selected applicants have forwarded their letters of consent.

From March 29-30, another 44 took the test and 13 were selected. About 87% of applicants, he said, were from Nagaland. The test conducted from April 14-15 also witnessed about 84% of applicants from Nagaland where 39 have been selected from 64 applicants, the results for which will be announced in a day or two. For grade-III recruitment, he informed that a committee has been set to look into it.

In view of the approval of 100 MBBS seats, the Commission directed the state to provide facilities in terms of teaching and non-teaching staff, buildings, equipment, and hospital facilities as per norms.

The new medical institute has also been directed to provide an undertaking to implement the decision regarding payment of stipends during the internship of undergraduate students.

Director and Dean of NIMSR, Professor Dr Soumya Chakraborty, told reporters that the setting up of the medical institute is an achievement for the state and the country. NIMSR, she observed, is an asset. She informed that necessary arrangements are being put in place to ensure the smooth functioning of the institute. 

As per NMC guidelines, Chakraborty said that out of 100 MBBS seats, 15 are all-India seats while the rest 85 is set aside for Nagaland. However, in case the seats remain vacant, they will further be given to residents of Nagaland.  Recruitment of faculty members, she assured, was conducted by experts from across the country in a fair manner. 

Both Sema and Chakraborty urged the state government to consider allotment of the Urban Development Housing Complex at Keyakie, located opposite the institute, for staff quarters.  

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the NIMSR Society and the Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) on January 25 this year for affiliating the NHAK as the Teaching Hospital for the institute to be functional as per NMC criteria till the time NIMSR’s Teaching Hospital becomes operational.

As reported earlier, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) approved the establishment of the Medical College with an intake capacity of 100 MBBS seats at District Hospital Kohima (NHAK) at the cost of Rs. 189.00 crores under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for “establishment of new medical colleges by upgrading district/ referral hospitals” in 2014. 

The college will initially function from two plots, Administrative, Academic, Hostels, and staff quarters at Phriebagie, and the Teaching Hospital will be at Naga Hospital Kohima, which is permissible under the Regulations of the National Medical Commission (NMC).

However, in view of space constraints and instability of land at the Naga Hospital Kohima campus, a dedicated 500 bedded Teaching Hospital is being established at Phriebagie and the construction of a 150 bedded hospital at Phriebagie through State Resources is nearing completion. The department has also approached JICA for setting up a 400 bedded Teaching Hospital.

Though approved in 2014, the acquisition of land was completed only in February 2018, the master plan was approved in October 2018 and construction began in 2019.(Courtesy: East Mojo)