NEET Could Undo Tamil Nadu's Achievements in Public Health

Tamil Nadu has performed extremely well in most health indicators because creative technical intervention in the state has been coupled with social mobilisation. The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) has the potential to reverse all past achievements—the innovative reservation policies and the incentive structure which ensured a seamless flow of health personnel in rural areas. 

The NEET is ostensibly meant to curb corruption in admission to medical colleges in India. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has been attempting to standardise this entrance criterion across the country. However, the exam has come under severe criticism for being detrimental for education and social justice as a whole (Kumar 2017). Tamil Nadu (TN) has especially a lot to lose with NEET, for it attacks the very foundation upon which the efficient public health system—with innovative reservation policies and incentive structure—was built in the state.

As per the Constitution, health is a state subject. State leadership can make or break health systems. The public health act in place in TN is one which lays out and specifies all legal and administrative structures for the public health system, providing a framework of well-defined responsibilities to different government agencies within the structure, with corresponding budget allocations. Moreover, all this is implemented rigorously. The NEET contradicts the spirit of this act. 

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