Grappling with shortage of teachers and crumbling infrastructure, the Union health ministry has allowed the opening of 14 new medical colleges and increased the number of seats in six existing institutes across India. The decision was based on the recommendation of the Medical Council of India (MCI). Health ministry officials said that at least five private medical colleges will be established in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh along with nine government medical colleges in Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The medical colleges will have 100 to 150 seats. At least six private medical colleges have been granted permission to increase 50 seats each in Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand.
"When there is already a shortage of teachers in Indian medical colleges, the additional strength of students may suffer with limited infrastructure and facilities in these colleges. Only a few private medical colleges do well as per past reports. The MCI recently inspected several medical colleges and found major shortage of facilities and teachers. Only a few medical colleges fared well and granted permission to increase seats because the government has been planning to do the same," said a senior official in MCI. "Increasing seats and establishing new medical colleges would not serve the purpose, there has to be ensured quality education and ample opportunities after the students step out of medical colleges.
In a recent meeting of MCI, officials were mooting increasing the retiring age of teachers in medical colleges in order to deal with shortage of teachers. In fact, the MCI would soon write to all the states to consider the proposal," the official added.
The decision of establishing more medical colleges and increasing the number of seats was proposed and done during the UPA government. The objective was to improve the availability of doctors by ensuring a doctor-patient ratio of 1:1000 as against the current 1:2000 ratio. According to estimates, despite a growth of 15 per cent in supply of medical teachers and specialist doctors every year, the demand for medical professors will not be fully met before 2025.