Armed with what it calls “industry-friendly” policy, the Central government’s top think tank, Niti Aayog, estimates that nearly 2,500 more hospitals will be constructed in various parts of the country in the next five years. Niti Aayog member (health) Vinod Paul, who also heads the country’s medical education regulator, Medical Council of India-Board of Governors, at a recent FICCI meet said that 2,500 more hospitals will come up in Tier II and Tier III towns in the next few years.
Officials in the Niti Aayog said that this estimation had been done following positive responses from state governments to an “advisory” issued by the Centre to facilitate the opening of private hospitals in smaller towns and underserved areas. The Centre had prepared the draft policy having realised that existing infrastructure was not enough to effectively implement its Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana—a health insurance scheme meant for the 10 crores most vulnerable families.
The advisory prepared by the Aayog and then sent to the states by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had asked states to ensure easy and fast availability of land for opening of hospitals, and facilitate various clearances and permissions under various statutory provisions/departments with specified timelines.
The Centre had also asked states to sanction soft loans at agricultural rates for new hospitals and providing services such as uninterrupted electricity at residential rates.“We are hoping that the states now start following the advisory and take measures to ensure that private entities are interested in opening hospitals in smaller towns,” an executive in the Aayog told this newspaper.
Paul had also said that the government was looking to double the number of MBBS seats in the country in the next five years. “That is possible provided that the new hospitals that start operations double up as medical colleges after fulfilling the requisite criteria,” the Aayog official explained. – The New Indian Express