Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh: Surging ahead in Medical Education
The foundation of an effective healthcare delivery system lies in its
competent and properly trained human resources. With a population of 1.3 billion
people to cater to, the Indian Medical Education System is one of the largest in the
world. The past few years have also witnessed rapid advances in this field. The
Government of India has effectively taken steps to achieve the goal of improving
the doctor-patient ratio both in terms of quantity (increasing admission) and quality
(better training of medical students).
The National Medical Commission Act, 2019 has been enacted under which
a National Medical Commission will be constituted in place of Medical Council of
India. This will go in a long way in overhauling the quality of medical education and
bringing it at par with the international standards. A uniform entrance examination
namely National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) has been introduced
alongwith provisions for common counseling for admission to UG / PG Medical and
Dental courses This will promote merit and transparency in admission process,
thereby attracting the best of talent. Further, 158 new medical colleges have been
opened in the last six years and MBBS seats have been increased from 51,112 in
2014 to 80,312 in 2019(a growth of 57%) and PG seats by 23,903 (i.e.79%) - from
30,191(2014) to about 54,094 (2020). Besides, under the Centrally Sponsored
Scheme for establishment of new Medical Colleges, establishment of 157 new
Medical Colleges have been planned, out of which, 43 have already become
functional. These measures are accelerating improved access to tertiary care and
expansion of Medical Education in underserved areas.
The Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh have also benefitted
a lot from these efforts. This article touches upon a few of these measures.
The Central Government in its endeavour to promote Medical Education in
the Hilly areas and the Special States has been assisting the State Government of
Jammu & Kashmir (presently UTs of J&K and Ladakh) for improvement in Medical
Education Infrastructure. The Union territories of J&K and Ladakh with a population
of nearly 1.25 crores had only 4 Medical Colleges (03 Govt and 01 private) till
uptothe year 2018-19, thereby managing to train merely 500 MBBS students every
year.A number of meritorious students from the UTs had to seek admissions in
other Medical Institutions across India and even abroad.
The introduction of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for
“Establishment of new Medical Colleges attached with existing district/referral
hospital” of has been a game changer in the State.
To meet the shortfall of human resource in health, the Government initiated a
Scheme for “establishment of new Medical Colleges by upgrading district/referral
hospitals” preferably in underserved districts of the country with fund sharing
between the Central Government and States in the ratio of 90:10 for North
East/Special Category states and 75:25 for other States. By opening new
Government Medical Colleges by attaching existing district/referral hospitals, a
substantial number of MBBS seats are being increased, thereby making Medical
Education affordable in the country and mitigating shortage of doctors with respect
to the population and distribution of the human resources across the country.
UNION TERRITORY OF J&K
Undergraduate Medical Education:
Under the scheme, the state government has been sanctioned with 7 new
medical colleges. As per the special state dispensation, 90% funding with respect
to the scheme is provided by the central government.In Phase–I,five Medical
Colleges were sanctioned at Anantnag, Baramulla, Doda, Kathua and Rajouri. Out
of these, four Medical Colleges (Anantnag, Rajouri, Kathua and Baramulla) have
already started functioning since 2019-20, adding 400 additional MBBS seats. The
Medical College at Dodais also likely to become functional shortly. Besides these,
two more Medical Colleges at Udhampur and Handwara (Kupwara) have been
sanctioned by the Government in the ongoing Phase III of the Scheme. A new
Medical College at Leh has also been sanctioned under the scheme, providing the
Union Territory of Ladakh its first Medical College, with 100 seats.
At present, one Private Medical College and seven Government Medical
Colleges are functional in Jammu & Kashmir, with a total intake capacity of 985
seats. Out of the seven Government Medical Colleges, four have been established
under the above said Central Scheme. After theremaining three Medical Colleges
approved in the Scheme become functional, the total number of undergraduate
MBBS seats in Jammu & Kashmir would increase by another 300 seats.
Besides this, two new AIIMS have also been established in UT, one each at
Vijaypur, Samba and Awantipura, Pulwama.The MBBS classes for AIIMS, Vijaypur
are likely to start in the year 2020-21.
Post Graduate Medical Education:
In order to improve the Post Graduate Medical Education, the Government
has been providing an incentive of Rs 1.20 Crore per seat, of which 90 percent is
provided as Central Share. The UT was allocated additional PG seats in Medical
Colleges Jammu / Srinagar and SKIMS Bemina, Srinagar under the Scheme. With
such initiatives, the number of PG seats in the UT has nearly doubled from 289
seats in 2013-14 to 568 seats in 2019-20. In addition to this, 51 Diploma seats have
been converted into Degree seats thereby increasing the number of trained
specialists in the state.
Besides these, the National Board of Examination, with a mandate for rapid
expansion of DNB program, has added nearly 50 seats in Jammu & Kashmir in the
last three years.
The efforts of Government over the past years have been bearing
considerable fruits. Similar reforms are underway in the other sectors suchas
Nursing Education, Dental Educationandalliedandhealthcareprofessions. The
Government has approved the introduction of a new law for a regulatory body for all
the allied and healthcare professionals called ‘The National Commission for Allied
and Healthcare Professionals Bill’. This will be introduced in the Parliament in the
Needless to say, these efforts at improving both the quality and quantity of
healthcare professionals will go a long way in improving healthcare service delivery
in the UTs of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh. These steps are important stepping
stones to promote better health and well being of our people and also to train more
Dr Yashpal Sharma MBBS, MHA (AIIMS New Delhi)
Director Coordination New Medical Colleges and MD JK Medical Supplies