Expressing a serious concern over the “highly inadequate” number of medical education seats in the country, President Ram Nath Kovind today said various regulatory impediments that had prevented the growth would have to be overcome.
He said this while addressing the 45th convocation of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Kovind, who talked at length about the “gaps” that remained between a good healthcare system and the population of the country, said that in the absence of the stipulated number of doctors, the workload on the existing ones was “very high” and that this situation needed to be addressed “very urgently”.
“I would say unrealistically high,” he said, referring to the pressure on a doctor in the country.
“I recognise that I am placing a big responsibility on the capable shoulders of our doctors. I acknowledge that our doctors need help. They need help in the form of more colleagues and this is where we need a new regulatory system to enhance the availability of doctors and medical professionals in our society,” the president added.
He pointed out that the medical colleges, run by the government or private entities, had about 67,000 undergraduate seats and 31,000 post-graduate seats currently and said, “In a country of 1.3 billion people, this is highly inadequate.”
The country had to overcome the “regulatory bottlenecks” and “interest groups” that had prevented the growth of a quality medical education, Kovind added.
“This gives us far fewer medical graduates and post- graduates every year than our people need. It also leads to aspiring medical students seeking admission in colleges in other countries, simply because they have limited options at home,” he said and added that such a situation was “simply not acceptable”.
“We need to address this situation very urgently. We need to create more opportunities for those young people who want to make medicine their calling,” the president said.
He lauded the students and faculty of the premier medical institute, saying that the AIIMS had become “a byword for quality, commitment and a rich experience”.
“The faculty and doctors, as well as, of course, the students, are the pride of our medical fraternity and our nation. I must compliment every member of the AIIMS family for keeping up these exceptional standards, despite very difficult circumstances,” the president said.
He told the students that their services were needed by the world more than ever before and reminded them that they needed “give back to the society”.
“It is true that you need to be legitimately rewarded for your academic excellence, your medical skills and your expertise. Yet, as doctors, your services must be available both to those who can afford your fees and also to those who are less fortunate and cannot afford (the fees),” he said.
A disease did not distinguish between the rich and poor but unfortunately, the poor suffered the most, the president said, adding that it was for the society to profit from medical science and “not for medical science to profiteer from the society”.
“The patients and their families have a great trust in you and they see you as next to god. It is upon you to ensure that the trust is given the due respect and that you treat them with care and compassion,” he told the graduating students.
Kovind expressed some of his other concerns like ensuring full immunisation to the children across the country.
“Despite the progress we have made, gaps remain. For example, Indian companies are among the world’s biggest manufacturers of vaccines. These vaccines are supplied across the globe.
“Our innovative medical scientists have even developed new vaccines. Even so, our own immunisation record remains below the desirable levels,” he said.
Many of our children, the president said, particularly in the far-flung and difficult-to-access areas, did not get the full course of immunisation.
He praised the Union government’s projects which aimed to achieve these targets.