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Govt clears decks for 4,000 additional medical seats at PG level

To address the paucity of doctors in the country, the government on Thursday approved a record number of 4,000 post-graduate medical seats in various colleges and hospitals for the 2017-18 academic session.

This has been confirmed by Union Health Minister JP Nadda. With this addition, the total number of PG seats in medical colleges across the country has reached 35,117.

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his visionary leadership, JP Nadda, who is camping in Varanasi, said, "The increase in PG seats would boost the government's resolve to strengthen tertiary care and also improve the standard of medical education."

In his official release, the minister stated, "This change has resulted in the creation of 1,137 extra seats in 71 colleges, while several others out of 212 government colleges are sending their proposals and it is expected that 1,000 more seats would be added during the month of March 2017.

According to officials, of the total increase, 2,046 seats are in medical colleges. "The government had already relaxed the existing teacher, student ratio from 1:3 to 1:4 or more, to enable government medical colleges to admit more students to meet the doctor, pupil ratio," an official said.

"The Diplomate of National Board (DNB) seats, which are equivalent to MD/MS, were increased by 2,147 last year resulting in a total addition of 4,193 PG seats thus far." With this, the government is hoping to achieve the budget announcement of adding 5,000 PG medical seats.

In a bid to improve the doctor-patient ratio, the government has eased the 'tough' norm of opening medical colleges by relaxing non-profit making "Trust clause".

Given that there is an acute shortage of medical practitioners, the move is aimed at meeting the crisis as the rule relaxation would help in establishing new colleges.

As per existing law, any profit making firm is not allowed entry in the medical education business. This bar has been lifted, thereby clearing the decks for private players.

The availability of doctors in India is less than neighbouring countries as the nation has just 0.7 doctors per 1,000 people, which is lower than Pakistan's 0.8, China's 1.5, and UAE's 2.5.

The increase in PG seats would be a big gain for states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. At present, there are around 1,050 post-graduate medical seats in West Bengal. Other states to be benefitted include Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh.
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