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Times Of India
29 Dec 2012
Pune, India.

The availability of MBBS and postgraduate (PG) medical seats will increase by 50% and 100% respectively from academic year 2013–14, Union minister for health and family welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Friday.

"The move forms part of the ministry’s focus on reforms in medical and paramedical education to overcome the acute shortage of human resources in health," he said at the 14th convocation ceremony of the Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University (BVDU). Founderchancellor of BVDU Patangrao Kadam presided over the session.

Azad said, "Since UPA–II came to power at the Centre in 2009, the availability of MBBS seats has gone up by nearly 40% and the number of PG medical seats by about 80%. The projected increase this year (2013–14) will be a record of sorts."

The minister called upon young medical graduates to take up rural assignments on their own volition. "Almost 99% of medical graduates in the country tend to opt for practice in urban areas, while a measly 1% opts for practice in rural India," he said. "The nation needs active participation by young graduates in providing healthcare services in rural areas, where there is an acute need for proper diagnosis, immediate medical aid, awareness campaigns and preventive and promotive healthcare," he said.

Azad said, "The reforms process initiated by the ministry is aimed at tackling issues at different levels, whether it is to overcome the shortage of faculty or to rationalise land, infrastructure and bed occupancy norms, teacher–student ratio, or increase in student intake of MBBS and PG medical seats. These pathbreaking decisions have brought in positive results, never seen before in the past six decades."

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Referring to the shortage of nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), Azad said the health ministry has sanctioned 269 nursing schools in the last two years, mostly in remote, inaccessible and under–served districts. "With an estimated outlay of Rs 2,030 crore, these institutions will give us an additional 20,000 nurses annually," he said.

"Centres of excellence in paramedical education are being established to scale up the availability of para–medics," he said, adding that the government had sanctioned a national institute of paramedical sciences in Delhi and eight regional institutes at Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar, Bhagalpur and Aurangabad. "As many as 10,760 paramedic professionals are expected to be trained annually when these institutes of excellence are fully functional," he added.

Azad said, however, that the government alone could not shoulder the responsibility in view of the huge requirement; the private sector also needed to play an important role by sharing the burden in funding higher education. "While ensuring efficiency in teaching and improvement in quality, private sector institutions should also take affirmative action to help weaker and disadvantaged sections to acquire professional higher education," he added.

Azad emphasised the need to extend equal attention to promoting research in health sciences by establishing state–of–the–art research laboratories, libraries and computer facilities.

Atotal of 49 research scholars were awarded PhD degrees on the occasion. BVDU vicechancellor Shivajirao Kadam, controller of examinations V V Dhapte, registrar G Jayakumar, former chairman of University Grants Commission Arun Nigavekar and former BVDU vice–chancellors S F Patil and Uttamrao Bhoite were among the prominent persons present.

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