State should plan for 4000 MBBS seats at entry level along with more PG institutes and plan for a medical college in every district by the year 2036, when Odisha celebrates 100 years of its formation.

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has made us all rise together to face the challenge of reducing the loss of valuable human lives. The state machinery in general and Health Dept in particular has been focusing on setting up of several COVID hospitals with ventilators and oxygen supply. The existing industrial houses both in public sector and private sector located in Odisha have come forward to supply vital medical oxygen to several states and UTs in the country besides setting up dedicated COVID hospitals.  It is high time, our Government utilized the present experience for developing a permanent healthcare infrastructure in our state to face any unforeseen pandemic in future.                      Our country in general and Odisha in particular has been experiencing a severe shortage of doctors and paramedic staff. To overcome the situation several medical colleges are being setup in the entire country including Odisha. The immediate task of the Govt is to strengthen the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities from primary health centres, community health centres to Sub Divisional and District HQrs hospitals and Medical College Hospitals. All these institutions are to be deployed with qualified staff alongwith medical equipment. For this we need several qualified doctors, specialists, nurses, mid-wives, ANM & GNM workers, technicians (x-ray, pathology, ultrasound, dialysis etc). Odisha has an acute shortage of health workforce. The 2017-18 report of NSSO shows that there are 2.1 doctors per 10,000 people as compared to the national average of 8.8 doctors for the same population. WHO norms specify one doctor for 1000 population. In India, for every one lakh population, 139 hospital beds are available as against 59 beds in Odisha. The total number of nurses and midwives available in Odisha is 7.6compared to the national average of 17.7 for a population of 10,000. Hence it is pertinent that Odisha should setup several medical colleges and nursing colleges to generate the required healthcare personnel for the state. With a population of 8 Crores, Tamil Nadu has 37 Govt. Medical Colleges and 23 private medical colleges with 9000 MBBS seats. Similarly, Karnataka, with a population of 6.8 Crores has 9400 seats in 60 medical colleges and some new colleges are coming up in both the states. West Bengal has about 4500 MBBS seats. States like Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh have decided to setup medical colleges in every district.                                                                                                                    The present status of Govt. medical colleges in Odisha with the enrollment of students is as follows:                                                                                                                    Existing 7 colleges, SCB-250, MKCG-250, VSS-150, Koraput-100, Baripada-100, Balangir-100, Balasore-100 making a total of 1050. Out of this 85% seats are reserved for the state students, i.e. 892. The balance 15% is for students on all India Merit.                              Upcoming 5 colleges at Puri, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Kalahandi, Phulbani each with a strength of 100 seats e 500, will enable 85% i.e 425 seats for Odisha Students.

  • 2 PSU MCH at Sundergarh NTPC and Talcher MCL each with 100 seats will provide 50% each to Odisha Students i.e. out of 200 seats,100 seats for Odisha Students, making the available seats for Odisha to 892 + 425 + 100 = 1417, say 1400 from the 14 medical colleges with total intake strength of 1750. Our students admitted in AIIMS and outside state colleges and private colleges are not taken into account as their number appears to be very small.                                                                                                      Hopefully in next 4 years all the above 14 colleges in the state will be fully operational. Even after commissioning these colleges it may be noted that the MBBS seats in Odisha is far less in numbers as compared to several other states.                                       Out of the 1400 seats for Odisha students at entry level, it is expected that 50% of the final year passouts i.e 700 doctors will be available for serving the state. The balance are expected to join PG studies and join services in Defence, BSF, BRO, CGHS, Railways, ESIC, Central PSU hospitals, private hospitals by industries, corporate hospitals, private practice etc. Taking into the regular retirements and resignations and requirement for manning new health care facilities and schemes of the Govt. the available 700 doctors may not be sufficient. Hence Govt. should plan for some more medical colleges at different locations so as to increase the strength to 3000 (from the present 1750), at entry level out of which about 2500 MBBS graduates will be from the state and out of this 50% i.e. 1250 doctors will be available to serve our state. We should encourage our doctors joining other services as stated above. This will change the perception about Odisha from a state exporting unskilled workers to a state providing best doctors for the country. We now find the difference when our MBA and engineering graduates are working in large numbers in IT Industry at Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. There will never be saturation of medical graduates in the country as well as in our state as apprehended. On the other hand, a robust Healthcare infrastructure will enhance Health Index as well as GDP of Odisha.                                                                                 Setting up of a new MCH brings lot of positive economic changes to the area. Like an Industry, it creates direct and indirect employment and helps in urbanization. Hence for inclusive growth several medical colleges may be setup at different backward areas. People from the aspirational district will be greatly benefitted if such colleges are setup in those districts. It is a matter of great concern that people from the South and South Western districts of our state depend on the neighbouring states for their healthcare requirements.                                                                                                         To increase the strength at entry level to 3000 from the present 1750 from 14 MCHs will necessitate setting up of at least 12 more medical colleges at different locations each with at least 100 seats in MBBS course. Looking into the geographical location, population, backwardness as well as industrial and urban areas, Govt should plan to locate the new 12 MCHs at Bhubaneswar, Paradip, Rourkela, Rayagada, Jharsuguda, Nawarangpur, Bhadrak, Parlakhemundi, Malkangiri, Kendrapada, Bargarh and Boudh. These 12 colleges can be setup in phases so as to complete all the 12 colleges by the year 2030 by which time there will be hopefully 26 Govt Colleges in Odisha. By the year 2036, State Govt should plan for medical colleges in every district by setting up 5 more colleges, one each in Deogarh, Dhenkanal, Nayagarh, Nuapada, Sonpur and increase the MBBS seats to 4000 and number of colleges to 31. This will enable medical colleges in all the districts and availability of sufficient doctors in the state to serve a projected population of 5.5 to 6 Crores.                                                                                 Alongwith these MBBS colleges, Govt should plan for more Post Graduate and super-specialty courses in the state. The proposed PGIMSR, Health University, NIMHANS like institute, Satellite Centre of AIIMS, Balasore, Cancer Hospital at Bhubaneswar may be expedited and the ISPAT PG Institute at Rourkela is to be made fully operational. With growth of medical education as well as pharma based industries and research, there will be a large requirement of highly qualified pharmacy professionals in Odisha. Hence a campus of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research under the Ministry of Chemicals, Govt of India and a campus of National Institute of Virology under Ministry of Health, GoI, may be set up at Bhubaneswar. All the above Institutes if set up in the coming 15 years will contribute to a robust healthcare infrastructure of Odisha by 2036 when Odisha celebrates 100 years of its formation of statehood.