December 24, 2011

Panel wants 187 new medical colleges

Aiming to bridge the medical education gap between the northern and southern states, a high-level expert group set up by the Planning Commission has suggested creation of 187 new medical colleges in the next 10 years.

Most of the medical colleges are currently located in the southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra with a very few colleges in large populous states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

“We recommend setting up of 187 new medical colleges over the next 10 years in presently under-served districts with a population of more than 1.5 million,” the panel headed by K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, said in its draft report, a copy of which is available with Deccan Herald.

The highly uneven distribution of medical colleges has resulted in skewed production and unequal availability of doctors across the country. For instance, there is only one medical college for a population of 11.5 million in Bihar, 9.5 million in Uttar Pradesh, 7.3 million in Madhya Pradesh and 6.8 million in Rajasthan.

On the contrary, in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, there is one medical college for a population of 1.5 million, 1.6 million and 1.9 million respecti­vely. The panel has recomm­ended establishing 49 medical colleges in UP, 27 in Bihar, 20 in West Bengal, 18 in MP and 17 in Rajasthan, besides 10 each in Jharkhand and Odisha. The experts also suggested mandating a substantial propo­r­tion of local student enrolment.

Recognising that establishment of so many medical coll­eges would pose a logistical problem for the state governm­ents due to faculty shortage and paucity of resources, the panel recommended linking the new colleges to district hospitals to overcome the shortco­mings.

At the same time, it advised the Plan panel to set up 58 new nursing colleges, 382 nursing sc­­hools and 232 schools for auxiliary nurse and midwives.

The proposals are aimed at improving the doctor-patient ratio besides doubling the nu­mber of nurses and midwives. Currently, one allopathic doctor serves 1,953 people, which can be brought down to 1,201 people by 2025, if the pa­nel’s recommendations are followed.

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