NEW DELHI: The Centre has approved 59 new medical colleges in the country in the last three years, 33 of which are in the private sector while 22 colleges are directly under the government.
Interestingly, four new medical colleges — in Gujarat and Assam —have also been started under the public-private-partnership mode.
The highest number of new medical colleges — eight — have been approved in Kerala, while Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have got seven new colleges each. In all, the country now has 529 medical colleges, 266 of which are government run. The data came out in the response filed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to a question by MP Dhiraj Prasad Sahu in the Rajya Sabha. The numbers are yet another example of the government’s bid to address the shortage of doctors in the country, particularly rural areas, said health ministry officials.
At present, India has a total of 11,57,771 allopathic doctors registered with the state medical councils and Medical Council of India.
“Assuming 80% availability, it is estimated that around 9.26 lakh doctors may be actually available for active service. It gives a doctor-population ratio of 1:1457 as per current population estimate of 1.35 billion, which is lower than the World Health Organization norm of 1:1000,” the government reply in Parliament said.
This year, the government has already approved nearly 9,000 more MBBS seats through general permission for hike in seats and for implementation of the Economically Weaker Section quota. This has taken the total number of MBBS seats to about 79,000.
Public health experts cautioned that while the government was doing good by paying attention to the shortage of doctors in the country, it should also develop mechanisms centrally to track and evaluate the competency of students passing out, mainly in private colleges.
“Also, to address the issue of faculty shortage in colleges specialist doctors working in private sector should be incentivised to teach on part-time basis,” said Oommen John of the George Institute for Global Health, New Delhi.