Rama Krishna Sangem
Russia war on Ukraine taught us a lesson, India can immediately add at least 1, 50,000 MBBS seats. One major fact that came to our attention is – after Russian war on Ukraine we saw the plight of Indian students in the strife torn country. Around 18,500 students are pursuing MBBS in Keiv and other Ukrainian cities.
Not only Ukraine, other former Soviet countries like Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia and also Philippines, Bangladesh, China and Russia. We regularly see advertisements by oversees education agencies calling for applications for medical seats abroad, at cheaper fees. Not surprisingly, our governments have no numbers on how many are studying medicine abroad.
Of course, Modi government arranged special flights for these Ukrainian medical students under the name of Operation Ganga. Around 500 of them are brought home and some others will be soon. And, many students have travelled and travelling to nearby countries to reach home. Luckily, none of our students are injured in the war.
The basic question is why so many of our students are going abroad to study MBBS? The answer is straight and simple – there are not enough seats in India and the medical education is very costly here. If an average Ukrainian MBBS student pays Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh per annum, a medical student in an Indian private medical college shells down up to Rs 90 lakh.
In India, there are 82,500 MBBS seats from 550 medical colleges, while the NEET (medical entrance test) every year sees around 16 lakh students registering. China, almost a little over close to our population size has 2, 86,000 medical seats. So, India can easily add another 1, 50,000 medical seats.
Then, we will have 2.30 lakh MBBS seats, fulfilling WHO norms, on the number of doctors for our population. Same is with PG and super-specialty seats, they can be doubled or added another 30,000 intake. We can set up more medical universities in every state, every region, so that there will be more research and development in medical education.
After Covid pandemic, it is clear that we don’t have enough doctors to meet our population needs. Thousands of primary health centers or wellness centers are empty without doctors. We need more doctors and more super specialists. Government of India and National Medical Commission should immediately relax norms for setting up a medical college.
A medical college need not show 20 acres of land and a dedicated 300 beds hospital to get permission. More medical colleges can be allowed to share land and hospitals so that the costs will come down and fees can be reduced. PM Modi on February 26 asked private companies to start medical colleges and appealed states to provide cheaper lands for the purpose.
This is good idea. If another 500 medical colleges are permitted and another 1.50 lakh MBBS seats are added, our students need not go abroad to pursue the courses. India can attract more students from other countries including G-7 countries too to study MBBS here. We can save huge foreign exchange and also build a robust medical education system here.