The Health Ministry has proposed to convert 75 district hospitals into medical colleges in the third phase of a scheme which aims at boosting the availability of the human resource for the health sector.
The proposal is a part of the Centre-sponsored program Human Resources for Health and Medical Education, which was launched for the establishment of new medical colleges by upgrading district or referral hospitals preferably in underserved districts of the country.
In the first phase of the scheme, the Centre had approved converting 58 district hospitals into medical colleges while in the second phase, 24 hospitals were selected. Out of these, 39 hospitals have become functional while others are still under construction.
According to a source, the proposal to convert 75 district hospitals into medical colleges in the third phase of the scheme has been sent for approval to the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC), after which it will be sent to the Cabinet. The up-gradation of these hospitals into medical colleges would cost around ₹325 crore, according to a draft proposal for the plan. Under the scheme, the State Governments put in a proposal earmarking hospitals in underserved districts to be converted into medical colleges, in line with the criteria that the district should have no other private or government medical college.
“The scheme aims at meeting the shortfall of human resource in the health sector. Medical colleges are unevenly spread across urban and rural areas of the country presenting wide disparities in the quality of education. The shortfall of human resource in health has resulted in skewing the distribution of health workers such that vulnerable populations in rural, tribal and hilly areas continue to be extremely underserved,” said a Health Ministry official.
The scheme will create an additional 10,000 MBBS and 8,000 post-graduate seats in the country, bridge the gap between the number of seats available in Government and private sector, mitigate the shortage of doctors and medical faculty in India and achieve the desired doctor- population ratio.
The registration data from professional councils indicate that the availability of one doctor per population of 1953 (HLEG Report) which is far less than that recommended by WHO norms of one doctor per 1000 population. To meet the requirements of Universal Health Coverage there is a need for improvement in the country’s present doctor population ratio from 0.5 per 1000 persons to one doctor per 1000 persons by the end of the year 2027.
According to the scheme, India has one of the largest numbers of medical colleges in the world, producing over 57,000 doctors and 25,000 specialists. But, India’s average annual output of graduates per medical college is less as compared to 149 in Western Europe, 220 in Eastern Europe and 930 in China. The private sector medical colleges have increased exponentially, where the economically backward students found it difficult to afford.
The scheme makes it clear that opening new government medical colleges by attaching existing district/referral hospitals on one hand and liberalising some Medical Council of India norms on the other can increase a substantial number of MBBS seats.

Source: The Hindu

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