14 states are urged to complete new medical institutions granted under the Central programme as soon as possible.

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The Union government urged 14 states on Thursday to use funding more quickly and complete new medical colleges that are connected to district hospitals and have been approved under a centrally sponsored program for the early start of undergraduate courses. In three phases since 2014, the initiative has approved 157 new medical colleges, according to a statement from the health ministry.

Rajesh Bhushan, the union health secretary, emphasised the projects’ sluggish pace while discussing the plan with the health secretaries and directors of medical education of 14 states and Union Territories through a video conference on Thursday. He urged the states to finish projects quickly so that undergraduate courses may start in the academic year 2023–2024. It was emphasised that all projects have to be finished by March 31, 2024, the planned end date for the initiative. For the fiscal year 2022–2023, Rs 7,500 crore has been allocated for the Human Resources for Health (HRH) and Medical Education (ME) programmes.

However, since there hasn’t been a request for cash and the states and union territories have been spending money slowly, the centre is unable to release any more money, the ministry said in a statement. In order for the Center to release any remaining monies, the states were also informed that utilisation certifications needed to be provided immediately.

For projects that haven’t yet begun, Bhushan recommended the states look into and deploy regionally appropriate green technology solutions as well as steel composite constructions. According to the statement, it was brought up that some of the projects appear to be stalling since the construction companies don’t have the necessary hospital construction experience. The meeting was attended by representatives from the following states: Punjab, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

In January 2014, the Union government introduced the Centrally Sponsored Scheme to create new medical colleges affiliated with current district-referral hospitals. The northeast and special category states receive a 90:10 money sharing split from the centre, while the remaining states receive a 60:40 split.

Mayank Tewari

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