Background:The past decades have seen a rapid expansion in the number of private medical schools in Asia.
Objectives:To summarize the evidence currently available on the nature of this trend of privatization, the driving forces behind it, the benefits and downsides of it and guidelines for initiating need-based reforms.
Methods:Relevant literature published in the last decade was searched using different databases. Reference lists of articles identified through the primary search were also hand searched.
Results:Extracted articles identified economical, social and geopolitical factors responsible for this trend in Asia. Privatization is helpful in enhancing access of health care to all sections of society, creating more job opportunities and obviating the bureaucracy involved in government organizations. Arguably, challenges in terms of professional competence of medical students, physical infrastructure, and availability of qualified faculty and patients are to be carefully handled in these institutions. Additionally, the financial strain on students, lack of racial and socio-economic diversity of students and regional inequality in location of schools in favour of urban areas to rural areas are the problems that are to be dealt with. Guidelines to be followed to initiate need-based reforms can be: imposition of accreditation processes, reforms in curriculum, appropriate student selection criteria, faculty development programmes, standardization of fee structure and use of regulations on the number and location of medical schools in richer and urban areas.
Conclusion:Privatization is a powerful tool which should be used cautiously to contribute to the betterment of health of the nation.