Port Blair, Oct. 3: The Lt. Governor, A&N Islands Lt Gen (Retd) Bhopinder Singh has called for a holistic revamping of health sector. In separate letters to the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, GoI, Shri Gulam Nabi Azad, the Lt. Governor has highlighted important issues such as immediate filling-up of vacancies of Specialist Doctors and to increase their tenure from ninety days to two years, enhancement of allocation of MBBS seats and BDS seats and early approval for setting up of Medical College.

The Lt Governor in his letter has urged the Health Minister to immediately fill–up vacancies of Specialist Doctors by posting Specialist on regular basis. He has stated that the Andaman & Nicobar Administration is facing acute shortage of Specialist Doctors. Out of 49 sanctioned posts of Specialists, 38 are lying vacant for a long time. GB Pant Hospital, the only Referral Hospital itself has only 9 Specialists from Central Health Services, out of the sanctioned strength of 22.  Similarly, posts of Specialists are vacant in other District Hospitals as a result patients are forced to travel to mainland hospitals for treatment.

He further stated that the Ministry of Health has been posting Specialists to this UT on 90 days rotation as an interim measure. However, this is not serving the purpose fully as the tenure of 90 days is too short for doctors to settle down to provide meaningful specialist services and the follow up.  Many of the Specialists posted for 90 days are only GDMOs with PG qualification, without requisite clinical experience. These islands being remote, Specialists from mainland are reluctant to serve here. To overcome the shortage of Specialists in the long term, Govt. of India has been requested to provide few PG seats every year in Central Govt. Medical Colleges for in-service regular GDMOs of A & N Health Cadre with an obligation to serve in the Islands.

The Lt. Governor has also requested the Union Health Minister for enhancement of allocation of MBBS seats at least to 40 and BDS seats to five. He stated that for the current academic year 2012-13, the Ministry allocated only 15 MBBS seats which are absolutely insufficient to accommodate the meritorious and deserving students of these Islands, who would like to pursue Medical Education. Since the admission to the current academic year 2012-13, for the medical or dental education have been closed on 30th September 2012, the Lt Governor has requested the Minister to consider the genuine request of the Administration at least from the next academic year onwards.

The Lt. Governor has requested the Union Health Minister for according early approval of the MCI and the Health Ministry for setting up of a Medical College in A & N Islands in collaboration with the private partner (PPP mode). He stated that the Central Govt. after consulting the Medical Council of India had issued a notification in September 2011 allowing the UT Administration to use the existing government hospital as part of medical college. Regarding permission to set up the medical college under PPP mode, it was stated that the matter was under consideration and the decision taken in the matter would be informed in due course. He further stated that setting up of a Govt. Medical College in the Islands is difficult in view of their remoteness and deploying faculty, as per MCI norms, seems to be another big challenge.  Therefore the concept plan and DPR prepared by the consultants, HSCC (I), Ltd. Noida had suggested a medical college on PPP mode.  In response to the EOI issued by the Administration, some of the reputed groups managing medical colleges have shown interest in setting up a college at Port Blair in partnership with the Administration. They have offered to construct, operate and maintain the Medical College at their own cost, on land offered on long lease by the Administration.