PUDUCHERRY: The government was planning to upgrade district hospitals into medical colleges in a phased manner to to address the acute shortage of doctors and para-medical personnel particularly in rural areas across the country, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said here today.
The shortage was much more acute in allied health profession and the problem "was made worse by highly uneven distribution of medical education capacity," he said. More than 400 out of 640 odd districts in the country had no medical colleges and the rural areas were worst affected, he said, presenting degrees at the 6th convocation of Centrally sponsored JIPMER (Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research).
To address this huge regional imbalance, the government had drawn up plans to upgrade existing government district hospitals into medical colleges to bring out more doctors and the first preference would be for districts having no medical college either in government or private sectors.
"We are taking up 58 district hospitals which would be upgraded into medical colleges in first phase. Then we would take up another 50 districts hospitals which would be made as medical colleges in rural and district areas to cater to the rural areas," he said.
The country faced two challenges -- shortage of manpower and making substantial improvement in quality of human resources produced, he said. "The shortage of manpower, not only of doctors and para medics and other categories also, has been a big challenge. It is a great challenge. The country now has around 7.4 lakh doctors against its requirement of 14 lakh doctors," he said.
Though the country had the capacity to produce around 2.6 lakh nursing professionals annually, it was still short of World Health Organisation norm of three nursing personnel for every doctor, he noted.
The Minister wanted institutes like JIPMER to take up curriculum development programme for undergraduate courses to meet the requirements of the society and assured support to its expansion plans.
Referring to the plea of Chief Minister N Rangasamy, who earlier distributed medals to best outgoing graduates, for a branch of JIPMER in Karaikal, he said, an offsite centre for UG medical education would be set up in the town, part of the union territory.