Thrissur: The National Medical Commission (NMC) has revised the number of MBBS seats required for starting new medical colleges in the country. From the coming academic year, the seat matrix will be approved in the order of 50/100/150 for new medical colleges. The order issued on August 16 changes the existing seat matrix of 100/150/200/250.
How will the new norms affect government medical colleges in Kerala? The Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode government medical colleges that have 250 MBBS seats can continue with the present system. However, the government medical colleges in Alappuzha, Kottayam, and Thrissur which have 150 seats each will not be allowed to increase the capacity in future.
However, the NMC decision to permit opening of medical colleges under the condition that there should be 100 MBBS seats for 10 lakh persons, will prove to be a blow to Kerala. As the population of Kerala is 3.5 crore only 3,500 MBBS seats can be allowed. At present, there are 4,505 MBBS seats in the 21 medical colleges in the State, including those in the private sector. Admissions were made to 4,205 seats in the State this academic year. It has to be seen if the seats go down in the near future.
Scope for smaller colleges
At the same time, a new small medical college can be started if there are sufficient facilities for teaching 50 students.
However, the new order will help in opening medical colleges in backward areas and habitations of tribal and scheduled caste communities by creating facilities for 50 MBBS seats in the existing government hospitals in those areas.
If there are 220 beds and related facilities, permission will be granted for 50 MBBS seats. Experts are of the opinion that the new guidelines will help to start medical colleges in places such as Lakshadweep.
However, private investment in the medical education sector may be affected as the reduction in the number of students will lead to a shortfall in revenue. Also, the new order regulating the number of MBBS seats in the medical education sector may ultimately lead to more students opting for study abroad.
Other new stipulations
The NMC notification says that in addition to the stipulation on the number of seats, the requirements on the basic infrastructure, teachers, officials, medical equipment in the hospital and different departments of study, and availability of medical equipment would be strictly enforced.
Conditions for overseas study
The NMC has advised that those who study abroad should make sure that the medical colleges in those countries strictly adhere to the requirements on the syllabus, language, length of course, clinical training, and internship. Even if one of these conditions is not met, the graduates from such colleges may face qualification.
Prospects of Wayanad and Kasaragod colleges
Meanwhile, preparations have only begun for starting the medical colleges in Wayanad and Kasaragod districts. It is assumed that since the preparatory measures in this regard have already begun, there would be no impediment to opening them despite the latest NMC regulation.
“The Central team has conducted its preliminary inspection in Wayanad. The suggestions given by it have been implemented and its next visit is awaited. Since we had submitted the application for the medical college earlier, the new decision by the NMC will not impact the project. There is no medical college within a 10-kilometre radius of the proposed institution in Kasaragod. Therefore, there should be no problem with the proposal there too,” clarified Veena George, Kerala Health Minister.
Dr Mohan Kunnummal, Vice Chancellor of Kerala University of Health Sciences, was also optimistic. “We can get an exemption from the new regulations by pointing out to the NMC that we had submitted the applications for the Wayanad and Kasaragod medical colleges earlier. Government medical college hospitals are the refuge of poor patients. We should also take into account the developmental and geographical aspects of Kasaragod and Wayanad districts,” he reasoned.