Exorbitant cost of setting up medical colleges is leading to high capitation fees, making it difficult for students from the middle class and poorer backgrounds to avail of medical education.
According to a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Health and Family Welfare, headed by Ram Gopal Yadav, setting up a medical college requires at least Rs 500 crore and 20 acres of land. The other members of the committee included Jairam Ramesh, Raj Kumar Dhoot, R.K. Singh.
The committee said it is of the view that the existing minimum standard requirement (MSR), as mandated by the Medical Council of India (MCI), is irrational and of artificially rigid standards, and is proving to be a big impediment for establishment and expansion of medical colleges. The committee recommended that the physical infrastructure requirement be pruned down in such a way that it should have just about 30-40% of standing value in the total assessment of a medical college.
As per MCI records, there are 9.29 lakh doctors registered in the Indian Medical Register as on 31 March 2014. Assuming 80% availability, it is estimated that around 7.4 lakh doctors may be actually available for active service. It gives a doctor population ratio of 1:1674 against the WHO norm of 1:1000. At present, every year around 55,000 MBBS doctors and 25,000 PG doctors are passing out from about 412 medical colleges. At this rate of growth, the country should have a doctor (allopathic)-population ratio of 1:1250 for a population of 133 crore by 2020 and 1:1075 by 2022 (population: 136 crore). However, the Committee was told by experts that doctors cannot be produced overnight and the country will have adequate number of doctors by 2029 if 100 medical colleges are added every year for the next five years. There are at present about 400 medical colleges across the country.
Regarding high tuition fees in private medical colleges, the committee has said that on an average, the total expenses come around Rs 12-13 lakh per year, which is quite exorbitant. The committee has suggested that the Union Health Ministry should play a role in regulating the fee structure to bring uniformity in fees across the country.
With a view to increasing the number of medical colleges, the committee has favoured the idea of converting district hospitals into medical colleges. If this is done, these hospitals will not only have the services of specialists but also produce doctors.