Note this: Nagaland is the only state in India not to have a medical college of its own. Nagaland attained statehood in 1963 but in these 57 years, multiple governments in the state and the centre failed to construct a single medical college in the state.
With over 19 lakh population according to 2011 census, the fact hurts even more at a time when health is seen as a top priority, if not the top-most, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing Union minister of state for health and family welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s data tabled in the Lok Sabha on February 5, Nagaland-based newspaper Morung Express came down heavily on the political class for failing to look into this important aspect since the last 57 years.
“Nagaland, the second oldest state in the Northeast, has the distinction or rather the ignominy of being the only state in India without a medical college,” the newspaper wrote.
The article highlighted the fact that other Northeast states, who gained statehood much later than Nagaland, are faring much better in this aspect. Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram today have their own medical colleges up and running.
Meghalaya has NEIGRIHMS, which introduced MBBS courses in 2008 followed by Post Graduate courses; Arunachal has Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, which was established in 2017; Mizoram has Zoram Medical College established in 2018.
Neighbouring Assam is on a spree of setting up new medical colleges.
India, on the whole, has 562 medical colleges at present. As per the data, Sikkim has one, Tripura and Manipur have two each while Assam has eight such medical colleges.
As for Nagaland, the ceremonial foundation stone laid for the medical college at Phriebagei in Kohima will turn seven in March this year. The foundation stone was laid by the incumbent and also the then chief minister Neiphiu Rio in March 2014.
“It is unclear when actual construction began but as per available reports, the nod of approval to begin construction was given in mid-2017 when Shürhozelie Liezietsu was the chief minister. It was later reported that the construction began sometime in 2018,” the newspaper noted.
In August 2020, state minister for health & family welfare S Pangnyu Phom said that construction resumed after a temporary stoppage owing to the COVID-19 lockdown. Chief minister Neiphiu Rio had also inspected the construction site in August 2019. Earlier, in October 2018, Phom was reported expressing the desire to complete the medical college by 2020.
“As per nagahealth.nagaland.gov.in, the target was to begin academic session by 2016-17, tentatively,” the article highlighted.
The total cost of the project was estimated at Rs 189 crore on 90:10 cost-sharing between the Centre and the state. In December 2019, Union minister Choubey told the Lok Sabha that the central share of 90 per cent or Rs 170.1cr had been released to the state.
A second medical college is also in the offing, as announced in September 2020 by the state government, in Mon.