Norms to open medical colleges to be eased

NEW DELHI: The Union health ministry will soon relax norms to open medical colleges. Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) to prepare a series of medical reforms within a month. One of the crucial reforms is regarding land required to start medical colleges.

Now, the ministry allows a medical college to start on a 10-acre plot in nine cities – Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kanpur and Pune. It is planning to expand this list and include state capitals of Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, which are not only facing acute shortage of human resources, but also have poor health indicators.

The ministry will allow these states to have split campuses – hospital and medical college within 10km of each other. This facility is available only in north-eastern and hill states, which require 20 acres of plot to start a medical college.

India has a density of one medical college per 38.41 lakhs. 

Around 315 medical colleges are spread across 188 of 642 districts. The ratio is worse in certain states: there is only one medical college for 115 lakhs in Bihar, UP (95 lakhs), Madhya Pradesh (73 lakhs) and Rajasthan (68 lakhs), whereas Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu each have medical college for 15 lakhs, 16 lakhs and 19 lakhs, respectively.

“Sometimes a hospital does not have enough land to start a medical college. We have asked theMCI to relax norms to allow a split campus provided facilities like transportation and telecommunication are in place,” a ministry official said.

India has the largest number of medical colleges in the world, producing over 30,000 doctors and 18,000 specialists every year. However, India’s average annual output is 100 graduates per medical college in comparison to 110 in North America, Central Europe (125), Western Europe (149) and Eastern Europe (220). China, which has 188 colleges, churns out 1,75,000 doctors annually with an average of 930 graduates per college.

The high-power expert group (HLEG) of the Planning Commission working on universal health coverage has proposed a phased addition of 187 colleges. The HLEG said by 2015 under phase A, 59 new medical colleges will admit students in the 15 states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP and West Bengal.

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