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India has 472 medical colleges but still faces shortage of doctors

New Delhi: India has 472 medical colleges and close to a million registered doctors. However, there is a shortage of doctors as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) norm of 1 doctor per 1000 population.

“To facilitate the setting up of more medical colleges, the government had rationalized the requirement of faculty in July 2015. Infrastructural requirements are further being rationalized. Recently, companies have been allowed to set up medical colleges. There is also a centrally sponsored scheme for establishment of new medical colleges in underserved areas,” according to a statement by the union health ministry.

“The expansion of postgraduate medical education is a priority as the shortage of PG medical seats in the country affects not only the availability of specialist doctors but also the ease of getting faculty for medical colleges. A 100 seat medical college requires 58 faculty at the permission stage and 105 faculty at the recognition stage. The country has about 18,000 PG medical seats in clinical subjects. Assuming 100 new medical colleges are set up in the next 4-5 years, additional faculty members numbering six to ten thousand will be required,” the statement said.

It further said, “At the behest of the central government, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has revised the teacher student ratio to increase PG seats in clinical subjects. As per the notification dated January 31, 2017 issued by the MCI under its PG Regulations, the teacher student ratio shall be 1:3 for Professor and 1:2 for Associate Professor, who is a unit head. The relaxation shall be available only to public funded medical colleges in all clinical subjects.”

The measure is expected to yield about 5,000 additional PG seats in clinical subjects in the coming years. A meeting was convened with all states and union territories on January 24, 2017 and they have been advised to take action for starting or increasing the seats in PG courses in government medical colleges immediately.

The increased availability of PG medical seats along with a centralized entrance exam, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) PG is a major step in reform of medical education in the country, according to the statement.

“The admission process to medical courses has been made transparent with many states adopting combined counselling at state level for undergraduate admissions including for private medical colleges and deemed universities in the academic session 2016-17. The ministry vide a letter dated December 5, 2016 has requested for combined counselling for PG admissions in session 2017-18. Most of the states have agreed,” the statement said.

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