Aiming to enhance accessibility of quality medical education and healthcare, the Centre will set up 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country, the finance minister announced in the Budget on Thursday.

"We would ensure that there is at least one medical college for every three parliamentary constituencies and at least one government medical college in each state of the country," Arun Jaitley declared.

With lakhs of aspiring medical students emerging every year, the government's plan to boost the number of medical colleges and upgrade existing ones is a good idea, say health industry experts.

Speaking to Mail Today, Dr DS Rana, chairman (board of management) of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, "Setting up new medical colleges is a positive step. This will increase the number of students and medical faculty in India.However, these new medical colleges should provide quality health education with right quantity and quality of faculty."

Every year, about 3.5 lakh students aim to pursue medical studies at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS). However, only a handful of them get through.

Currently, there are very few such competent government medical institutions such as RML, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Vardhman Mahavir Medical College in Safadrjung Hospital and PGI Chandigarh.

Experts said people still have lesser faith in private healthcare institutions in terms of teaching practices and for charging lakhs of rupees as fee.

Dr KK Aggarwal, national president of Indian Medical Association (IMA), lauded the step of enhancing medical education for budding students.

However, the government should plan to commission new medical colleges in the states with no medical universities or institutions, he said. "New medical colleges should be opened in 

areas where there are no hospitals and health education institutions such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, etc. This will fill the scarcity of doctors in our doctors," he said. - India Today 

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