Health Minister Mohammed Nasim at a news briefing on Sunday said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has approved those medical colleges. A fifth in Chandpur is awaiting her approval, Nasim said.
As many as 250 students will be able to sign up for the 2018-2019 academic session in all those five colleges, he said.
With those five, the number of government medical colleges would stand at 36 in Bangladesh. Separately, Bangladesh Army runs six medical colleges.
The number of private medical colleges is 69 as the current government has been expanding the medical colleges since 2009. Hasina had announced a plan to set up one government medical college in each district.
Seats of those 36 government medical colleges would be 4,068 while all private medical colleges can sign in around 6,000 students.
The number of private medical colleges was 33 in 2008 when the ruling Awami League came to power while the number of government medical colleges was 17.
There have been quality concerns in new medical colleges for long. Many of them lack teachers to teach basic subjects such as anatomy, physiology and forensic medicines.
Asked, Nasim said they had examined all these issues before giving the approval. “All those places have 250-bed hospitals. We have demand for doctors.”
Director General of Health Services Prof Abul Kalam Azad said they would build one government medical college in each district as announced by the prime minister.
“When we open a medical college in a district, we can take specialists there. So it improves the healthcare in the area.”
“In all government medical colleges, we can offer highly specialised care to the people.”
Azad said they would update the seats of the medical colleges time to time. “When we’ll see there is no demand, we’ll reduce the number of seats.”
State Minister for Health Zahid Maleque said: “We have four doctors for 10,000 people, but the WHO says it should be 12.”
The health minister also announced a plan to recruit 7,000 doctors by the first week of November and those doctors would be posted to the rural areas. “They will have to serve there for three years,” he said.
Nasim also announced a number of upcoming projects in the health sector.
He said the prime minster would lay the foundation stone of the newly approved three medical universities in Chattogram, Rajshahi and Sylhet in October.
On Sep 13, Hasina will lay the foundation stone of a 10-storey institute at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University. On Oct 13, she will open the 500-bed Sheikh Hasina Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute in Dhaka.