eMedinewS Editorial

Health Care 4,085 Comments

India need more medical colleges

The total registered allopathic doctors in the country are 7,58,866 but this is not an exact figure as names of doctors who have died, still continue to appear in the register. For every 10000 population, there are 5.97 doctors and 7.9 nurses.

India is short of 6–8 lakh doctors, 10–12 lakh nurses and 2-3 lakh dentists as per the Planning Commission statistics. In its 271 medical colleges, India produces only 31,000 allopathic doctors every year and around 150000 postgraduates every year. This year, Ministry has decided to upgrade only 19 medical colleges with super–specialty facilities.

The shortage of doctors is evident when we look at the doctor–patient ratio. The present ratio is 1:1722 as a whole in the country. The ideal ratio should be 1:500. However as per WHO, the doctor–patient ratio should be 1:250 (one doctor for every 250 patients). The sitaution is worse in the rural areas where for every 34,000 rural population, there is only one doctor.

The above statistics only indicate the need for more medical colleges in India. BRMS or Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery as envisaged by the previous Medical Council of India is not the answer.

The Government is planning to spend Rs. 10,000 crore over the next 2–3 years to establish seven medical institutes on the lines of AIIMS. The same money, in fact, should be used by the Government in opening more medical colleges all over the country.

It is always said that doctors do not want to go to rural areas. If the government wants to solve this problem, they can put in a condition that for the next ten years new medical colleges would be opened only in rural areas. Here is another suggestion. A senior resident in Govt. Hospital is paid
Rs. 60–70 thousand per month as salary. If this salary can be increased to Rs. 1 lakh and made income–tax free for rural areas, it will be enough and good incentive for any senior resident who has completed three years in a government hospital to go and serve in rural areas for another two years. He will save around Rs. 20 lakh income–tax free money, can come back and start practice anywhere he wants.

As per WHO, for every 1000 population, there should be 5 beds in an hospital and, at present in the country, the figure is less than 2 per 1000 population. It is true that 75% of human resources, 68% of hospitals and 37% of total bed capacity is in private sector. Private hospitals have 12,22,000 beds compared to only 5 lakh beds in the government hospitals.

The need, therefore, is to open more medical colleges, postgraduate courses and hospital beds so that the gap is not filled up by quacks.

A new synthetic cell now (MIRACLE)

Craig Venter world renowned geneticist at the J. Craig Venter Institute for the first time has created life using a computer and making the first ever synthetic cell. Three years ago, Dr. Venter was able to show that the natural DNA from one bacterium can be inserted into another and that it would take over host cell’s operations. In the year 2009, his team synthesized a piece of DNA over 108000 bases.

As per a report published in Science, his team found that a synthetic DNA takes over a bacteria cell just as prenatural DNA did, making the cell generate the proteins specified by the new DNA genetic information in preference to those of its own genome. The bacteria used was microplasma mycoides.

Venter said that the creation of the synthetic cell began on a computer. His team assembled it and transplanted it into a recipient cell, converted that to a new species. He said that they built the DNA chromosome from scratch from 4 bottles of chemical chromosomes over 1 million letters long and they did the final assembly in the yeast that people are familiar with making beer and bread. The new bacteria replicated over 1 billion times.

However, many scientists have cautioned the new species is not a truly synthetic life as its genome was inserted into an existing cell. Nevertheless, the results were hailed as a turning point in the relationship between man and nature.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee and Chief Editor