The central government’s decision to set up new medical colleges has been welcomed wholeheartedly by various stakeholders as it is expected to bridge the huge discrepancy in the country’s doctor-patient ratio. The decision to establish 75 new medical colleges and the addition of 15,700 MBBS seats by 2021-22 were taken with an aim to address the shortage of doctors in the country.
The new medical colleges would be set up under phase three of an ongoing central government scheme in under-served areas having no medical colleges with at least a 200 bed district hospital. District hospitals with at least 300 beds will be given preference. The colleges will be attached with the existing district and referral hospitals. The move is expected to improve tertiary care in the government sector and promote affordable medical education in the country. The government had earlier approved the establishment of 58 new medical colleges under Phase I and 24 under Phase II of the scheme.
Announcing the new medical colleges, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, stated that the new medical colleges would be set up with an investment of Rs 24,000 crore. The government added 45,000 MBBS and PG seats in the last five years, he said, adding that 82 new medical colleges were established during the period.
Meeting target ratio
Stakeholders observed that setting up of new medical colleges will help to address the shortage of doctors in the country. Dr R V Asokan, Secretary-General, Indian Medical Association, said: “It’s certainly a welcome move. At present, a total of over 80, 000 MBBS graduates come out every year from medical colleges across the country. Another 10,000-12,000 students come back to India every year after completing their medical graduation in foreign countries. With the addition of 15,700 new MBBS seats, the total number of doctors produced every year in the country will be more than one lakh. With this number of new doctors adding every year, it would be possible to meet the doctor-patient ratio in another five years.”
He added that in such a scenario, there is no need to allow the practitioners of other streams to practice modern medicine by doing a bridge course and the government should drop its plan.
Dr. Shivkumar Utture, President, Maharashtra Medical Council, said that the doctor-patient ratio in India is less than the norm set by World Health Organization. “The deficiency of doctors is particularly in rural areas. We have been demanding an increase in the number of MBBS seats for quite some time. The central government’s present move will help to increase the number of doctors produced in the country and address the issue to a large extent, as the medical colleges are proposed to set up in districts without a medical college,” he said.
Public sector boost
Though there are apprehensions about the quality of education, stakeholders said that it won’t be difficult to impart quality education as district hospitals are being converted to medical colleges. Dr. Utture, said: “If it is not possible to get enough teachers for the new medical colleges, then it will be a major issue. But the central government most probably will have some plans on the same. And, then the quality of education won’t be affected”.
He added that it is a win-win situation for everybody. Medical education in the country has become very costly, he said. The central government’s decision to set up new medical colleges can benefit the middle class, the lower middle class and BPL families as they typically enroll in government
colleges. Also, those who complete medical education from remote areas will be more willing to serve in those areas.
Dr. Asokan also said that as the medical colleges are planned to be set up in the government sector, it will help us to provide medical education at an affordable cost.