29th of December 2010 marked the passage of the Kerala University of Health Sciences Bill by the State legislature. A long cherished dream of the people, the University is expected to usher in a new era in health care education, training and research. This in turn would pave the way for better health care delivery and thus help to sustain the much acclaimed 'Kerala model of health' in the years to come.
Located at Thrissur, the University has jurisdiction over the entire State of Kerala. It has been functioning for a little over two years and currently has 231 health care professional colleges, belonging to the whole spectrum of health sciences, affiliated to it. These include all systems of Medicine (Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Modern Medicine and Sidha), Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Paramedical courses. The university is also empowered to recognise and promote other systems of 'healing' such as Unani, Yoga and Naturopathy as and when they emerge in the State.
The University intends to make use of this opportunity, not only to bring about significant changes in professional and scientific education but also in university governance, administration, and even in its physical infrastructure. Optimal use of the advances in Information & Communication Technology (ICT), it is hoped, would enable the university to make its operations efficient, transparent and easily accessible; it would also facilitate overcoming the several problems, not the least of which is the acute shortage of teachers, which now plague health care professional education. ICT would also help the timely incorporation of the latest advances in health sciences into teaching and practice, bring about welcome changes in pedagogy, and reforms in examinations. The Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS) thus plans to initiate a paradigm shift, both in health science education and in University functioning.
The University's Vision and Mission, set out below, reflect its hopes and aspirations.
To create competent and compassionate professionals who are heirs to the rich traditions of the world of science and ancient wisdom; to enrich the art and science of health care through research, incorporation of traditional knowledge, and integration of best practices; ; and to engage with the society to address local and regional issues of health
The University has already initiated several steps to improve academic standards. Workshops for examiners, students' research and college inspectors, and for syllabus review are some of them. It is also in the process of holding symposia on topics that impact on regional health issues, health related societal problems and on health policy and planning. It is hoped that these exercises would serve the purpose of periodical updating of academic standards, inculcating research mindset among students, as well as promoting health education and advocacy.
The University's schools of research will be established at different centres across the State. Each of these Schools will be devoted to the various aspects of health sciences, and on interdisciplinary areas. The basic purpose of the Schools will be to conduct in-depth research with the aim of enhancing knowledge and enriching health care practices.
One of the mandates of the University is to establish constituent colleges. At least one college in each branch of the Health Sciences should therefore be started to ensure equal and simultaneous progress and development in undergraduate and post graduate teaching and training in every branch. And it would be ideal to plan for a constituent college campus at a suitable place in order to promote “cross talk” between the various branches and disciplines. The campus should have sufficient acreage to accommodate colleges from the different streams, should be residential, and must have all facilities for the all round development of the student and student-teacher interactions, in the hallowed traditions of the 'Gurukula Vidyabhyasam'. The campus could, if planned and developed with vision, lead to producing a new generation of 'healers' who understand and respect other disciplines, and who also have the realization that each contributes, in its own way, to the promotion and preservation of health; that, working together, it would be possible to achieve the seemingly unachievable goal of “Health for All” at some not too distant future. The 'Constituent College Nagar' would thus become an example for close inter disciplinary coordination and cooperation for attaining and sustaining health and well being for all the people in Kerala, and beyond, and in this way become another 'Kerala Model of Health'.
The University's main focus will always be its students. Their all round development - academic, cultural and physical - would be the focus of all its plans and actions. It would be the endeavour of the University to make sure that its students excel in both curricular and extracurricular activities, at regional and national levels, so that KUHS will soon be a name to be reckoned with in the world of higher education.
The campus of the University at Thrissur, and elsewhere, will be designed to be a 'Green Campus' in every way. This would involve buildings incorporating energy saving technologies, measures to harvest rain water, water conservation and waste water recycling, in addition to the 'greening' of the land and its minimal usage for construction.
With its unwavering emphasis on ensuring quality and relevance of the professional education in health care, the university will always strive to ensure that knowledge, educational technology and professional practices are reviewed and revamped on a continuous basis.
The establishment of the University is the result of the determined pursuit of the Government of Kerala to realize a dream. We, at the university, are even more determined to translate that dream into reality in the near future. It is indeed a golden opportunity to make use of this New Year gift, presented at the dawn of a new decade, to initiate the beginning of a bright new future for a healthy Kerala, firmly supported by a healthy and robust education system. Let us all join hands to help and guide the University in its arduous voyage of destiny to revolutionize the health care scenario in the State… and beyond.