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Universities overseas lure Indian medical students towards them

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"Doctors-to-be", medical students head out of India to other countries as they face issues with increasing fees and scarcity of health infrastructure.

There is an increase in the number of applicants as per the National Board of Examinations. About 5,000 candidates went abroad in 2007. This number has now shot up to 14,000, with most of them flying to Russia, China, Nepal and Ukraine.

Dr Srinath Reddy, Public Health Foundation of India's President says that its not a trend to worry about. "We do have a shortage of doctors in this country," he said. "Particularly doctors that are [poorly] distributed - both in terms of the medical colleges that train them, and later on in their location for employment," he added.

More than 52 universities in China are providing the courses, and the fee with boarding facilities included, is almost half the amount the students have to pay if they were to study in India. "Education in private colleges in India is very expensive and I cannot afford it," says a student of medicine. "When I come back I will have better job prospects after doing my medical education in China," he added.

About 31,000 students can be admitted to 290 medical schools in India, each year. Over 350,000 students write the admission tests.

Universities overseas lure Indian medical students

Indian Medical Association's Dr K K Aggarwal says that the demand is greater than the supply for medical schools and hence there has to be an increase in supply."I hope the Indian government thinks and comes out with more medical colleges and more seats so that students don't have to go abroad," he said. "Let the people from other countries compete to come to our country and not the other way around. I don't think that is the right approach and I hope the Medical Council of India will think of this and increase the number of seats," he added.

After the screening tests are taken, many Indian students who have studied abroad, enter the Indian health system.

India has only six doctors for every 10,000 people; in comparison with 14 doctors per 10,000 in China and 26 doctors per 10,000 in the US, as per World Health Organisation's data.

India's health system is scuffling at various levels, says Dr Reddy. "We need to train many more nurses...allied health professionals, the paramedics of various categories," he said."[We need to] have a multi-layered health system where there are specialist doctors and basic doctors, and all of them need to be trained adequately as they are gaps everywhere," he added.

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