Assam has requested the Medical Council of India (MCI) to tweak its rule and allow medical colleges in the state to conduct double shifts - morning and evening - to overcome the severe shortage of medical professionals in the state.
The medical regulatory body on Wesdnesday granted recognition to the state's fourth medical college. The recognition to Jorhat Medical College has come after 40 years of being in the planning.
The last of Assam's three medical colleges was established in 1960 at Silchar town in southern Assam.
"We have requested the MCI to relax a rule that disallows evening shifts in medical colleges. Assam is short of at least 7,000 doctors, and the state's four medical colleges with a combined capacity of 520 seats cannot cope with the demand. Besides, we have undertaken a Rs 1,000-crore plan to set up 126 model hospitals," said Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Each of these proposed model hospitals needs 14 doctors and 20 paramedics. At Rs 5 crore per hospital, this is India's biggest healthcare initiative, Sarma said.
"We hope the MCI understands our requirement and bends the rule. This will enable our medical colleges to provide two shifts to double the intake of students. We have also factored in overtime for faculty members," the minister added.
According to health officials, the two-shift formula will go a long way in inducting at least 2,000 doctors by 2015. This will double the number of medical graduates using the same infrastructure and faculty.
"No health mission, however good the intention, will succeed in Assam or anywhere else in the Northeast if the existing infrastructures (medical colleges) is not put into overdrive," a senior officer told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity.
The Jorhat Medical College is touted to be one of very few in India that would produce doctors dedicated to rural areas. Admissions for these newly established medical colleges – 15 per cent seats are reserved for the Central pool – begin on Thursday.