There has been a 69-per cent increase in the number of medical colleges in the country, from 387 before 2014 to 654 as of now, the government informed Parliament on Tuesday. Further, there has been a 94-per cent rise in the number of MBBS seats, from 51,348 to 99,763, and a 107-per cent increase in the number of postgraduate (PG) seats, from 31,185 before 2014 to 64,559 as of now, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
In order to increase the number of doctors in the country, the government has hiked the number of medical colleges and consequently, that of MBBS seats, she said. The steps taken by the government to increase the number of medical seats in the country include a centrally-sponsored scheme for the establishment of new medical colleges by upgrading the district and referral hospitals, Pawar said, adding that 94 of the 157 new medical colleges approved are already functional.
A centrally-sponsored scheme for strengthening or upgrading the existing medical colleges run by the state or the central government has been implemented to increase the numbers of MBBS and PG seats, the minister said.
Under "upgradation of government medical colleges by construction of super specialty blocks" of the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), a total of 75 projects have been approved, of which 60 are complete, she added. Under the central sector scheme for setting up new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), 22 such facilities have been approved and undergraduate courses have started in 19 of those, Pawar said.
She said relaxations in the norms for setting up medical colleges in terms of the requirement for faculty, staff, bed strength and other infrastructure have also been allowed. Among the other measures, the DNB qualification has been recognised for appointment as faculty to take care of the shortage of faculty and the age limit for appointment or extension or re-employment against posts of teachers, deans, principals and directors in medical colleges has been increased to 70 years, Pawar said.
Responding to a question on whether the government plans to implement a proposal of the National Medical Council against "mixopathy", wherein a medical practitioner can only prescribe medicines in the system of medicine he is trained in, the minister said, "To decide doctors of which system of medicine will be deployed at various levels of public health facilities is a prerogative of the state governments."