From the Viewsroom

A booster shot for healthcare

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on August 30, 2019

Move to produce more doctors should be backed by safeguards too

For anyone who has gone to a government hospital, the overwhelming need for more doctors and para-medical staff is all too evident. And yet, this over-stretched system caters to a groundswell of patients coming from various parts of the country, at subsidised costs. It is this over-burdened system that the government looks to address through its latest decision on starting 75 medical colleges attached to 200-300 bed referral or district hospitals by 2020-21. Along with previous initiatives, a total of 15,700 MBBS seats are to be added.

Currently, much of the medical and teaching infrastructure is in the South and attracts students from across the country. But if quality medical education and hospitals centres were made available in remote northern or eastern States, for instance, chances are that at least a fraction of the doctors will stay and contribute to delivering healthcare in these regions.

So the government’s initiative sets out on a good note, but the road ahead has pitfalls. In an already cash-strapped situation, the funds disbursed for this initiative should be invested in upgrading hospitals linked to the colleges and not in creating massive hostels and auditoriums, caution doctors. Housing and other such services can be supported by the town or city where the college-hospital is based, as the local economy evolves around the needs of the student-doctor community. Another critical concern that had been flagged by a Parliamentary panel report is the shortage of quality faculty. The government may need to look at teaching differently and tap into the pool of practising doctors. But a major pitfall the government will have to safeguard against is government utilities and services going to these remote regions do not get diverted to private facilities owned by people with deep-pockets and political clout. Keeping such corruption out will be key in ensuring that government measures aimed at making healthcare affordable and accessible, actually meet their objective.

PT Jyothi Datta Deputy Editor

Published on August 30, 2019

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