Only six AIIMS-like institutions have become functional, that too partially, in the country in the last 12 years, despite the Centre’s announcements to open at least another 11. These six institutes are at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh. As a result of this slow progress, the basic aim of creating health super-speciality centres of the level of New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) all over the country, has not been achieved, forcing people to come to the national capital for advanced health care services.

However, despite the tardy progress on these AIIMS-like institutes, state governments are demanding more such set-ups. At least 17 requests from different state governments are pending with the Union Ministry of Health. This year, the Centre has announced that it would open two new AIIMS-like institutions in Jharkhand and Gujarat.

The idea of opening AIIMS level institutes in different parts of the country was mooted with the objective of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable and reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country. The move was aimed at creating AIIMS like facilities in states so that people did not have to come all the way to New Delhi for treatment. However, even after 12 years, not a single AIIMS has come up to do the job done by AIIMS in New Delhi, said a source.

Speaking to this newspaper, former vice president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Ajay Kumar Singh said, “It’s unfortunate that none of the regional AIIMS has attained the standard, which can even marginally match with the Delhi AIIMS. The total concept is somewhere missing. There is a need to involve the local government in the entire process so that these become regional hubs for good health care.”

In the 2004-05 interim budget, the A.B. Vajpayee-led NDA government first announced the setting up of six regional AIIMS in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand). It proposed to upgrade one medical college each in Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, to the level of AIIMS.

However, not only did successive UPA governments took around 10 years to complete these projects, but they also did not announce any new AIIMS, except for one in Rae Bareli (the constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi) and one in Raiganj, West Bengal (the constituency of former Union minister Deepa Dasmunsi), in 2009.

After coming to power, the UPA government, in its full budget in 2004-05, announced that work on these six regional AIIMS (earlier announced by the NDA) would start from next year, under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

Because of the delay by the UPA I and II, so far only five new AIIMS at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh, are functional, that too partially. The AIIMS at Rae Bareli is still under construction, while only pre-investment activities have been initiated for an AIIMS at Mangalagiri (Andhra Pradesh), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Nagpur (Maharashtra).

Soon after coming to power, the Narendra Modi government decided to revive the earlier effort of opening regional AIIMS. In Union Budget 2015-16, six new AIIMS were announced—in Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Bihar (second AIIMS). Besides, there was a proposal to open four more AIIMS in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Vidarbha in Maharashtra and Poorvanchal in UP. The government also announced two AIIMS in this year’s budget.

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