The government today approved setting up of 75 medical colleges over three years which will be attached with existing district or referral hospitals. This will add at least 15,700 MBBS seats in the country.
The new colleges will be set up in under-served areas having no medical colleges. Also the colleges will be set up with district hospitals having at least 200 beds, a government statement said.
"Under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we took several important decisions today. One of the decisions was to approve 75 new medical colleges. It will cost around Rs 24,000 crores and create an additional 15 thousand new seats in MBBS," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
Earlier, the government had approved the setting up of 58 new medical colleges of which 39 have already started functioning, the statement said. The remaining 19 could be completed by 2020-21, it said.
Due to the rapid population growth there is a lack of facilities in the health sector, especially in rural areas of the country. Hospitals are overcrowded, even in big cities; there is shortage of doctors as well as nursing staff.
Annual outbreaks of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome are common in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh which kills a number of people every year, mostly children. This year, over 176 died in Bihar due to the deadly disease - there were 872 cases reported in the state. In Assam, 214 deaths were reported from Assam till July 18 alone, the state's health minister had told parliament. Most hospitals were not well equipped to handle as many cases - the Centre's move is seen as an attempt to improve the healthcare system.
Just a week back, a woman in Uttar Pradesh was forced to deliver a baby in a hospital corridor because the doctors allegedly turned her away saying there were no beds to admit her.
Hospitals are understaffed at every level in most states, from doctors to nurses - the Bihar government too admitted this in the Supreme Court during the encephalitis breakout in the state.
India spends less than two percent of its GDP on health care, making it one of the lowest investors in the sector globally, news agency AFP had reported in June.