Our country is facing a lot of questions, due to many difficult challenges along with medical education being very expensive in India, but after a long time, the government has taken extensive steps to improve medical higher education. On 6 August 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare introduced a Gazette notification for starting the post-graduation diploma courses of 8 medical specialities under the National Board of Examination. These are 2-year courses that can be undertaken after completion of MBBS degree. According to the regulations, these training programs can be conducted by any well-equipped private or government hospital with more than 100 beds, including senior staff of medical specialities. The regulatory changes brought by this notification will also bring changes in India’s healthcare, making ours the first nation in the world to dissociate healthcare from affluence.
Why are post-graduate seats needed?
Every year around 1,70,000 doctors write NEET post-graduation exams under the Medical Council of India and the National Board of Examinations for 50000 seats (including 15000 non-clinical seats). This means that the remaining 120,000 doctors who do not get these seats every year, will not return to their clinical work. They may waste two to five years attending coaching classes in Kerala or Kota, some even give up on becoming doctors. Adding a few thousand seats to the postgraduate diploma courses will immediately bring these doctors back to patient care in accredited government or private hospitals. It also gives them the option to apply for MD, MS, after the course completion. This is an attractive alternative for skilled young doctors coming from the poorer sections because diploma courses are available at an affordable cost. Also, they earn a stipend during the program which can be used to support their families.
What kind of specialities are we lacking?
Women and children constitute 60% of the country’s population, yet India has one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. We desperately need gynaecologists, paediatricians, family physicians, anesthesiologists and radiologists for the health of women and children. Most public hospitals, especially Tier 2 and Tier 3 town hospitals, face a shortage of more than 80% of such professionals. If those hospitals introduce diploma training courses in all these specialities, the shortfall of medical specialists can be completely made up in two to four years.
Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology:
In India, a woman dies in every 20 minutes while giving birth to a child. We need to do at least 4.2 million cesarean sections for 24 million pregnant women every year, and this requires at least 200,000 gynaecologists. But we only have 400,000 practising gynaecologists out of which a very large number do not practice Obstetrics, and most of them live in big cities. With this diploma, this huge gap will be reduced in a short time, which will reduce maternal mortality.
Diploma in Pediatrics:
In India, thousands of newborn children die in ICU in the hospital every year. Every year 24 million babies are born and only about 24000 paediatricians are able to take care of them. Through this course, we will get trained doctors to take care of newborns which will make it easier to stop the mortality of newborns.
Diploma in Anesthesiology:
However, we have 30,000 practising anesthesiologists on 65 million surgeries annually. Of these, only 26 million surgeries can be performed. Lack of anesthesiologists is the primary cause of the disaster in rural areas. Critical care is a growing need in India’s health sector and is managed by an anesthesiologist in this department. Critical care units cannot operate properly unless we provide a large number of anesthesiologists. During this corona infection, COVID-19 patients needed anesthesiologists to care for ventilators.
Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Disease:
Pulmonologists primarily treat lung disease and are frontline warriors fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of respiratory diseases in India is a matter of concern. Millions of Indians suffering from diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and asthma, and continuously growing in number because of COVID-19 infection.
Diploma in Radio-Diagnosis:
Radiologists are medical doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging (radiology) procedures (exams/tests) such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound. Thousands of pregnant women have abnormal fetal problems that often do not come to the fore because they do not have contact with any radiologist. Unfortunately, there are only about 11000 radiologists in India. There is a very wide need for this course, especially in rural areas.
Diploma in Family Medicine and Diploma in Ophtology and Diploma in ENT:
Diplomas in these specialities will be very effective to fight the shortage of doctors related to them, especially in rural areas. When district hospitals become post-graduate training institutions and attract enthusiastic young doctors, the quality of small-town hospitals will undergo a massive change. Dr Devi Shetty and many prominent doctors thanked this far-reaching vision of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, NITI Aayog and National Board of Examination, it will open a new dimension in the history of the Indian health sector.