Thrust on creating more specialist docs

Thrust on creating more specialist docs
The Union Budget on Wednesday proposed to add 5,000 more postgraduate medical seats and expand other avenue to higher studies in medical streams to make up for the acute shortage of specialist doctors in the countryside. The health ministry’s overall budget has been hiked by almost 24% from its actual spend in the last fiscal. The allocation in 2017-18 stands at Rs 48,853 crore – an increase of Rs 9,165 crore from last year’s revised estimate.

The maximum beneficiary is the national rural health mission and a scheme to convert 58 district hospitals into medical college. “We have decided to take steps to create additional 5,000 post-graduate seats per annum,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said presenting the Budget in Lok Sabha. Moreover, steps will be taken to roll out Diplomate of National Board (DNB) courses in large district hospitals, strengthen the post -graduate teaching in select ESI and municipal corporation hospitals and encourage reputed private Hospitals to start DNB courses.

Run by the National Board of Examiners, an autonomous body under the health ministry, DNB courses are for post-graduate and post-doctoral medical students. Currently there are about 18,000 post graduate medical seats in India. The government’s renewed thrust to create more specialist doctors follows disturbing surveys that found rural and small-town India terribly short of specialist doctors, particularly the surgeons, who could save lakhs of lives in the hinterland.

Close to 75% sanctioned posts of surgeons are vacant in the  30-bed community health centres that are located in small towns and serve as the referral point for patients coming from primary health care centres in the villages. The outlay on human resources for health and medical education increased by almost seven times – Rs 600 crore in last year's budgetary estimate to Rs 4,025 crore in 2017-18.

Bulk of this money, sources told DH, was spent in upgrading district hospitals, located in northern, eastern and central India. Each of them would require Rs 189 crore for the upgrade, out of which the central government would provide Rs 112 crore. Jaitley also announced setting up of two new tertiary care hospitals on the lines of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Gujarat and Jharkhand.
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