The Cabinet’s approval to recommendations for increasing MBBS seats by 10,000 in recognised government medical colleges in the country has been welcomed by students and medical education experts. But this needs to be backed by steps such as increase in the number of postgraduate seats and establishment of medical colleges in rural areas, say experts.
The decision will lead to an increase of about 10,000 seats that will cost Rs. 10,000 crore, with a proposed central assistance share of Rs. 7,500 crore and state/union territory share of Rs. 2,500 crore.
Currently, there are around 50,000 MBBS seats across the country. There are 381 medical colleges with about 50,000 MBBS seats registered with the Medical Council of India. The current estimated doctor population ratio in India is 1:1700 and the targeted ratio would be 1: 1000 achievable by the year 2031.
“This is a good step that will address the shortage of doctors in the country. But medical colleges should also be allowed to be established in rural areas with constantly improving infrastructure. There should be a similar proposal for PG seats too as there are about 23,000 PG seats which includes non-clinical seats. There are just 2,300 seats in rural areas which should be increased and doctors should be sent for rural posting only during their PG. The aim should be to upgrade district hospitals to medical colleges,” says Dr Narendra Saini, secretary general, Indian Medical Association.
A health ministry proposal to set up 58 new medical colleges in states with central assistance and upgrading of district hospitals had earlier been approved by the government. Under the scheme, the total cost of establishing one medical college is about Rs. 189 crore.
According to Dr AK Aggarwal, president, Delhi Medical Council and professor of excellence at Maulana Azad Medical College, “There are about 650 district hospitals and some of them are good. Besides more seats, we need more teachers, better infrastructure, clinical material and PG seats. The hospitals which are already established can be converted to medical colleges in rural areas and at the district level.” Medical students have also welcomed the proposal. “Increasing undergraduate and PG seats along with ensuring quality infrastructure development is must,” says Dr Manish Prabhakar, president, Indian Medical Students’ Association.
# The decision will lead to an increase of 10,000 seats that will cost Rs. 10,000 crore, with a proposed central assistance share of Rs. 7,500 crore and state/union territory share of Rs. 2,500 crore
# The current estimated doctor population ratio in India is 1:1700