MBBS classes from temporary campuses, limited Out Patient Department (OPD) services, and some with no In Patient Department (IPD) services – none of the 15 All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), announced by the Centre since 2014 are “fully functional” yet.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, responding to questions in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha this monsoon session, shared the progress of each of these institutes.
With a political slugfest between the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and the Opposition-ruled state governments keeping AIIMS Darbhanga and AIIMS Madurai in the headlines, FIT breaks down the data to get a status update on the premier medical institutions.
How Each AIIMS College Is Faring in 2023
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Takeaway 1: None of the New AIIMS Colleges Are 'Fully Functional'
What does it mean for an AIIMS college to be fully functional?
AIIMS Delhi, which was established in 1956 as the premier public medical college and hospital, runs close to 50 departments, inclusive of its teaching facilities.
From Anatomy, Cardiology, and Nephrology to Plastic Surgery, Psychiatry, and Transplants, you'll find the top doctors and medical facilities available here for any and every concern.
As of now, AIIMS Delhi is the only one that is "fully functional." However, there are six other branches, all established in 2012, that are functional:
AIIMS Raebareli, which was announced in 2012 and established in 2018, is functional too.
A functional AIIMS basically has all the clinical and non-clinical departments that allow it to function as a super-specialty tertiary care centre in its state/surrounding regions.
However, none of the 15 AIIMS colleges announced since 2014 are functional or fully functional yet.
Construction has been completed in six campuses and MBBS classes are underway in 12 campuses.
But not all of them have OPDs and IPDs that are completely operational.
In fact, AIIMS Vijaypur and AIIMS Awantipora have no OPD or IPD since all three are under construction. At AIIMS Darbhanga, AIIMS Madurai, and AIIMS Rewari, the construction has not even started yet.
Let's look at some examples:
AIIMS Nagpur, which was established in 2018, does not have a Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery department. Neither does it have an Emergency or Trauma Care unit.
Similarly, AIIMS Kalyani in West Bengal, established in 2018 and partially functional as of now, does not have a Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine unit.
Takeaway 2: MBBS Classes Being Conducted at Temporary Campuses
According to the Establishment of Medical College Regulations, only someone who is managing a “fully functional minimum 300-bedded hospital with necessary infrastructural facilities” can set up a medical college.
But data from the health ministry shows that even as none of these campuses are “fully functional” yet, 12 of them have been conducting MBBS classes.
In fact, four of them have been conducting classes from "temporary campuses."
AIIMS Deoghar (conducting classes since 2019-20)
AIIMS Guwahati (conducting classes since 2020-21)
AIIMS Madurai (conducting classes since 2021-22)
AIIMS Vijaypur (conducting classes since 2021-22)
This raises several questions:
How are these AIIMS colleges being allowed to conduct MBBS classes?
How are students being trained in the practical/clinical aspects of medicine at temporary campuses?
Where are these students doing their internships which are mandatory after 4.5 years of MBBS classes?
Will these students have placement opportunities in their own campuses?
A public health expert that FIT spoke to emphasised on how important "hands-on experience" is for medical students. This also raises questions about the "quality of education" delivered to students of "non-functioning hospitals" who are attached to private hospitals or government medical colleges for their internships.
Takeaway 3: Glaring Gaps in Vacancies Across Faculty & Non-Faculty Positions
Data provided by the health ministry in the Parliament reveals glaring gaps in vacancies at the various AIIMS colleges.
Four among the 12 new AIIMS colleges have over 100 faculty posts that are vacant.
In both AIIMS Rajkot and AIIMS Vijaypur, 111 out of 183 faculty posts are vacant.
10 of the 12 new AIIMS colleges have over 500 non-faculty posts that are vacant.
The health ministry, replying to a question in the Lok Sabha during this monsoon session, said that they’ve made some structural changes to fill up vacancies across all the branches of AIIMS:
The upper age limits of recruitment for the professor and additional professor positions have been raised from 50 to 58 years.
Contractual engagement of retired faculty of government medical colleges has been allowed up to 70 years of age.
Centralised recruitment for nursing cadres has been implemented.
The health ministry has been monitoring recruitments in various AIIMS colleges.
Bharati Pawar, the Union Minister of State for Health, had said in March this year that the need to maintain “high standards in selection” was the reason why “all the advertised positions could not be filled up” in AIIMS colleges, The Wire had reported.
However, Pawar had also mentioned some steps that the government was taking to fill up the vacancies, according to answers tabled in the Rajya Sabha:
Downgrading requirements: For instance, hiring assistant professors (who are less experienced) when advertising for additional and associate professors.
Moving professors from different departments on a “loan basis.”
Political Mud-Slinging Over Land Acquisition
The construction of all these AIIMS colleges has been accompanied by political bickering, especially in Opposition-led states. As a result, AIIMS Darbhanga and AIIMS Madurai have been in the news cycle.
What is the status of the AIIMS colleges in Opposition-led states?
1. AIIMS Darbhanga
According to an answer tabled in the Lok Sabha during this year’s monsoon session, here’s the timeline of the work progress at AIIMS Darbhanga:
September 2020: Union Cabinet approves setting up of AIIMS Darbhanga
November 2021: Bihar government transfers 200.02-acre land from Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital to the Centre.
March 2023: Bihar government says it will provide 151-acre land situated on Ekmi Shobhan Bypass, Anchal- Bahadurpur, Mouza-Balia, Thana No-120/2 for AIIMS Darbhanga
May 2023: Centre finds proposed land unsuitable and conveys the same to Bihar government. It says that the land is in a low-lying area, it’ll be challenging to fill the area with good quality soil, there's the possibility of water logging, etc.
2. AIIMS Madurai
With the pre-investment work completed, loan agreement signed with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in March 2021, and a Project Management Consultant appointed, AIIMS Madurai's work is under progress, albeit delayed.
However, construction has been completed in other Opposition-led states such as in AIIMS Mangalagiri, AIIMS Kalyani, AIIMS Bathinda, and AIIMS Bilaspur.
AIIMS Bibinagar and AIIMS Deoghar are also under construction as of now.