Why do Indians go abroad for Medical Studies? – UPSC GS2

Context: The war in Ukraine and the evacuation program launched by the government following the crisis have highlighted the number of students that travel abroad for medical education.
  • There are about 18,000 Indian medical students in Ukraine.
Countries preferred by Indian students for medical education:
  • Russia
  • China
  • Ukraine
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Philippines
Why do Indians go abroad for medical studies?
  • Cheap Education:
    • The cost of living and the medical course are cheaper than paying for an MBBS seat in private medical colleges in India.
    • An MBBS degree in a Government college would cost up to a few lakhs but in private colleges, it might cost up to ₹1 crore for the five-year course.
    • Entire cost of studying including lodging and boarding in Ukraine is ₹30lakh-₹40 lakhs, including lodging and boarding.
  • English Medium:
    • The medium of education for these students is English, a language with which they are comfortable.
  • Importance of Medical Education:
    • The desire to study medicine holds a lot of value in the Indian community.
    • In remote-far-flung areas, people still look at doctors as gods.
  • Lack of Medical seats in India:
    • Based on the information from the National Medical Commission (NMC), in 2021-22, there were 596 medical colleges with a total of 88,120 seats.
    • According to the National Testing Agency, in NEET 2021, 15.4 lakh students appeared for the exam and 8.7 lakh students qualified.
    • Number of private medical institutions is nearly the same as the government institutions.
      • 50% of the total seats are available at affordable fees in Government colleges.
      • And another 50% of the seats in the private sector must charge only the government college fees as mandated by NMC
      • This suggests that only about 65,000 seats are available with an affordable fee structure.
  • Uneven distribution of Medical Colleges:
    • Institutions are not evenly distributed across the country.
    • States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have a high number of colleges.
Way forward:
  • The Prime Minister has highlighted the need for setting up more private medical colleges in India to help more people to take up medical courses.
    • Experts opine that it is a flawed approach.
    • If the objective is to make medicine more accessible and affordable in the country, the path ahead is not in the private sector, but in the public sector.
  • Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana has been successful in expanding facilities for quality medical education in the country and more such policies should be introduced.
  • The governments can set up more medical institutions, as recommended by NITI Aayog, by using the district headquarters hospitals and expanding the infrastructure.
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