The Centre on Thursday decided to increase MBBS seats by 10,000 in recognised government medical colleges across the country. The decision coincided with a day, when in Maharashtra, the state government decided to allow homoeopathy doctors to practise allopathy after a one-year course.
At present, there are around 50,000 MBBS seats in the country and the government is keen to increase them to address the issue of shortage of doctors. The current doctor-patient ratio is 1:2000 to 1:1000. The World Health Organisation (WHO) benchmark is 1:700.
The medical fraternity has hailed the government decision as wise as it will help people get quality health care at a lower price.
Dr Santosh Wakchaure, president of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), said, “We don’t have enough doctors to serve people, that is the bitter truth. The Union cabinet decision will strengthen the health care system.”
He criticised the state’s decision to allow homoeopathy doctors to practise allopathy to meet the shortage of doctors in Maharashtra.
“The government should also increase post-graduation and super-speciality seats. This will help scale up the need for skilled doctors in the country,” added Wakchaure.
The Centre plans to increase MBBS seats to produce more doctors to strengthen the health care system and serve areas in the rural hinterland. Dr Shivkumar Utture, member of Maharashtra Medical Council, said, “India has a very poor patient-doctor ratio, when compared with the World Health Organisation standards. To have a balanced patient-doctor ratio, we need to have more MBBS seats, especially in government-run medical colleges.”
A health ministry proposal to set up 58 new medical colleges in states with central assistance and upgradation of district hospitals had earlier been approved by the Centre, thus helping create 5,800 more MBBS seats. Utture said the latest decision will bring down health expenses.
There are few government medical colleges compared to private medical colleges where students pay exorbitant fees. Such doctors then charge more money when they start practising. If there are more medical seats in government colleges, this fee will definitely come down.