Relief for South: NMC defers notification to cap number of MBBS seats to 100 per 10 lakh population

The decision was taken after the Union Health Ministry asked the NMC to re-examine the provisions of the ratio.

BySouth First Desk

Published Nov 16, 2023 | 12:41 PMUpdatedNov 16, 2023 | 12:41 PM

NMC notification MBBS seats

Following protests from South Indian states, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has deferred by a year its decision to cap the number of MBBS seats to 100 per 10 lakh population.

The decision was taken after the Union Health Ministry, on 1 November, asked the medical education regulator to re-examine the provisions of the ratio of 100 MBBS seats per 10 lakh population in states.

“It is informed that a decision has been taken by the Undergraduate Medical Education Board, National Medical Commission that the ‘objective’ clause under Chapter-1 of ‘Guidelines for Under Graduate Courses under Establishment of New Medical Institutions, Starting of New Medical Courses, Increase of Seats for Existing Courses and Assessment and Rating Regulations, 2023″ (notified by UGMEB on 16 August, 2023) shall be implemented from academic year 2025-26,” the Commission said.

Related: New NMC guidelines won’t allow new MBBS seats in South India

The notification

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).

The 16 August notification was opposed by states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry, which have a large number of medical colleges.

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.

Related: Stalin asks PM Modi to keep NMC’s notification in abeyance

MBBS seats in South India

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.

MBBS seats in South India.

MBBS seats in South India.

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.

Related: Andhra urges Union Health Ministry to relax NMC notification

Doctor-to-population ratio in South India

States that are better off in the health sector are expected to be impacted more. The World Health Organisation recommends a doctor-to-population ratio of 1:1,000, and southern states have crossed it properly.

According to NMC data, Andhra Pradesh had 1,05,799 registered doctors as of June 2022, while Karnataka had 1,34,426, Kerala had 42,596 doctors, Tamil Nadu had 1,48,217 doctors and Telangana had 14,999 doctors.

This means one doctor was available for 505 people in Andhra Pradesh, 503 people in Karnataka, 839 in Kerala, 600 in Tamil Nadu and 2,540 in Telangana.

It should be mentioned that Telangana doctors’ registration only started after 2014, after the formation of the state. The doctors practising in Telangana before 2014 are registered in Andhra Pradesh.

Also read: NMC puts on hold the regulation regarding generic drugs

TN, AP opposed the move

On 4 October 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.

In a similar move, Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Vidadala Rajini met Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in October and demanded relaxation in two conditions set by the NMC.

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.

(With PTI inputs)