Context:

The Union Health Ministry has announced reservation for the OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) for medical / dental courses.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Social Sector & Social Services, Education and Health related Issues, Government Policies and initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The present situation of Medical Education and Healthcare workforce
  2. New reservations under AIQ
  3. What is the All India Quota?

The present situation of Medical Education and Healthcare workforce

Regarding Medical Education

  • In the last six years, MBBS seats in the country have increased by 56% and the number of PG seats by 80%. In the last six years, almost 180 new medical colleges have been established and now the country has more than 500 medical colleges (of which only around 290 are government colleges).
  • Medical education is the bedrock on which the needs of ‘human resources for health’, one of the major building blocks of any health system, are met.
  • Today’s health professionals are required to have knowledge, skills, and professionalism to provide safe, effective, efficient, timely, and affordable care to people.

Regarding Healthcare workforce

  • India’s availability of doctors per thousand population does come close to the World Health Organisation’s prescribed doctor-patient ratio of 1:1000 if we include all the registered allopathic, homeopathic, ayurvedic and unani doctors. But the number of doctors who practise is much lower.
  • It is also far lower than many countries including Russia, the USA, and all the European Union countries where the ratio is above 3 doctors per one thousand population. Unless we increase the ratio to the level of better performing countries on the health front, poor people in India will continue to suffer.
  • As a major impediment for achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) there is a serious shortage of health workers, especially doctors, in some northern States.
  • Health workers are critical not just for the functioning of health systems but also for the preparedness of health systems in preventing, detecting and responding to threats posed by diseases such as COVID-19.
  • The doctor-population ratio in northern States is far short of the required norm, while the southern States, barring Telangana, have enough doctors in possession- hence, the healthcare workforce crisis has been aggravated by the imbalances within the country.
  • The problem of shortage of doctors and other support staff has been allowed to linger for the past several decades due to short-sighted policies of the institutions such as Medical Council of India

New reservations under AIQ

  • The Union Health Ministry has announced 27% reservation for the OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and 10% quota for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) medical / dental courses (MBBS / MD / MS / Diploma / BDS / MDS) from 2021-22 onwards.
  • National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is the uniform entrance examination for medical and dental colleges across the country in which the new reservations for the OBC and EWS will be having a strong impact.
  • Although the same NEET examination is held across the country, a chunk of the seats in state medical/dental colleges is reserved for students domiciled in their respective states. The remaining seats: 15% in UG and 50% in PG are surrendered by the states to the All India Quota.
  • This would benefit every year nearly 1,500 OBC students in MBBS and 2,500 such students in postgraduation and around 550 EWS students in MBBS and around 1,000 such students in postgraduation.
  • The OBC students from across the country shall now be able to take the benefit of this reservation in AIQ to compete for seats in any State. Being a Central scheme, the Central List of OBCs shall be used for this reservation.

How the present reservations came to be?

  • Initially, there was no reservation in the AIQ up to 2007 – but in 2007 the Supreme Court introduced the reservation of 15% for SCs and 7.5% for STs in the scheme.
  • When the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act became effective in 2007, providing for uniform 27% reservation to the OBCs, the same was implemented in all the Central Educational Institutions. However, this was not extended to the AIQ seats of State medical and dental colleges.
  • The denial of OBC and EWS reservations has been the subject of protests for years.
  • In July last year, the Madras High Court ruled that OBC students too can avail reservation in the AIQ.
  • It held that the reservation could not be implemented for the then academic year for want of time, and can be implemented from 2021-22.

What is the All India Quota?

  • The AIQ scheme was introduced in 1986 under the directions of the Supreme Court to provide for domicile-free, merit-based opportunities to students from any state to study in a good medical college in any other state.
  • A student domiciled in Uttar Pradesh, for example, may be eligible for admission to a seat in a state government medical college in West Bengal, provided she scores high enough in the national merit list. If her score is not high enough for AIQ, she may still hope for admission under the state quota in her home state.
  • In deemed/central universities, ESIC, and Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), 100% seats are reserved under the AIQ.

-Source: The Hindu

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