After Tamil Nadu, Andhra urges Union Health Ministry to relax new NMC notification on MBBS seats

If the formula of 100 MBBS seats for every 10 lakh people was followed, no southern state would be able to start a new medical college.

BySumit Jha

Published Oct 20, 2023 | 8:00 AM Updated Oct 20, 2023 | 8:00 AM

Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Vidadala Rajini recently met Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and demanded the relaxation of two provisions of the new NMC guidelines.

With the National Medical Commission (NMC) notification restricting the opening of new medical colleges impacting the southern states, Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Vidadala Rajini met Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and demanded relaxation in two conditions set by the NMC.

According to the commission’s Extraordinary Gazette Notification Guidelines for Undergraduate Courses Under the Establishment of New Medical Institutions, Starting of New Medical Courses, Increase Seats for Existing Courses & Assessment and Rating Regulations, 2023, dated 16 August, 2023, medical colleges shall follow the ratio of 100 MBBS seats for every 10 lakh population in that state or Union Territory (UT).

Related: New NMC rule won’t allow new medical seats in South India

The two conditions

“After AY (academic year) 2023-24, the Letter of Permission (LOP) for starting new medical colleges shall be issued only for an annual intake capacity of 50/100/150 seats: Provided that the medical college shall follow the ratio of 100 MBBS seats for every 10 lakh population in that state/UT,” reads the notification.

It has put the southern states — which already have more seats in MBBS courses — in a fix.

If the formula of 100 MBBS seats for every 10 lakh population is followed, all the southern states — Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana — will not be able to start a new medical college: They have crossed the mark.

The other NMC rule states that a hospital with a capacity of 605 beds should be provided for new medical colleges.

Related: Telangana inaugurates 9 medical colleges — with basic infra

Andhra demand

In her representation to the Union government, Minister Rajini — who is also in charge of medical education  — expressed concern over these two provisions.

She said: “These two provisions would cause serious damage to the newly-formed state of Andhra Pradesh. After the bifurcation of the state, Andhra Pradesh lost badly in terms of medical care services.”

An official statement said Mandaviya responded positively to Rajini’s request and assured her that appropriate measures would be taken.

Related: New NEET-PG percentile a boon for students or medical colleges?

More medical seats than NMC norm

In a reply to a question in the Lok Sabha regarding the seats in Medical Colleges and the projected population till 31 March, 2023, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar said all South Indian states — given data from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) — had more seats than the NMC’s new norm.

In Andhra Pradesh, the projected population was 5.34 crore, which meant that the state could have 5,346 seats. The state now has 6,435 MBBS seats.

Karnataka, with a projected population of 6.76 crore, has 11,695 seats — the highest in the country. According to the NMC norm, the state should have only 6,770 seats.

Kerala, with a projected population of 3.57 crore, has 4,655 seats — much more than the 3,577 that the NMC norm would mandate.

The NMC notification put the number of seats in Tamil Nadu with a projected population of 7.68 crore at 7,686, around 4,000 less than the existing 11,600.

Telangana, which has been adding MBBS seats over the past few years, has plans for another 800 seats next year. It has a projected population of 3.8 crore, and the seats should be around 3,809 seats. However, the state currently has 8,540 MBBS seats, around 5,000 more than the NMC-prescribed seats.

The largest state in India, Uttar Pradesh, whose projected population was around 23.5 crore, has just 9,703 seats — around 14,000 less than the 23,568 seats, as per the NMC norms.

New medical colleges in Andhra

The Andhra Pradesh government is constructing 17 new medical colleges with an investment of ₹8,480 crore. The construction of five medical colleges has already been completed, and they are expected to be operational next year.

The work of the remaining 12 colleges is going on at a fast pace, said Rajini, adding that there would be no chance of sanctioning even a single medical college in the state due to the new rules.

Rajini urged the Union government to ensure that there was no loss in the provision of modern medicine to Andhra Pradesh.

Tamil Nadu raises red flag

Earlier, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct the Union Health Ministry to keep the notification in abeyance and initiate a consultative process to address the matter.

“I wish to draw your kind attention to the regressive scenario created by the recent notification issued by the NMC to restrict the opening of new medical colleges,” Stalin wrote in a letter.

Stalin also said that the notification was a “direct encroachment” on the rights of all state governments and penalisation of those who have invested more in their public health infrastructure over the years.

“Chennai has emerged as the healthcare capital of India. In both public and private sectors, our skilled medical professionals have been able to successfully serve not only the people of Tamil Nadu but also other states as well as other nations. This has generated a huge demand for quality health services and new institutions are necessary for us to cater to it in the future,” Stalin added.

“The criterion proposed for such restriction, the higher doctor-population ratio at the state level as compared to the norms, is also not appropriate. Even when there is adequate availability of doctors at the state level, there are districts where their availability continues to be a persistent issue,” he said.

The problem can be effectively addressed only by starting new medical colleges in backward areas and any restriction based on state-level criteria will deprive these deserving districts of much-needed tertiary institutions.

“I would also like to point out the fact that in states like Tamil Nadu which have a higher doctor-population ratio, such high availability of doctors has been achieved predominantly due to investments made by State Governments and the private sector and not by investments made by the Union Government.”