Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday said out of the total 157 newly approved medical colleges in the country's backward areas, only 70 institutes have become functional till date.

"Health is a state subject, and primary responsibility to ensure availability of public health facilities lies with the state government. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare administers a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for 'Establishment of new Medical Colleges attached with existing district and referral hospitals' with preference to under-served areas and aspirational districts where there is no existing government or private medical college," he said in the Parliament.

This step will help to improve the healthcare delivery system in these areas. In this scheme, the Central government has approved establishment of 157 new medical colleges in three phases. Out of these, 70 medical colleges have become functional till date.

Answering another question on the steps taken by the Centre for making healthcare facilities affordable for patients, he said: "To provide affordable and quality tertiary health care facilities, the government is setting up new All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and upgrading Government Medical Colleges under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana. The state governments are also supported for setting up of new medical colleges as well as for increasing undergraduate and postgraduate medical seats."

"Further, under the National Health Mission (NHM), technical and financial support is provided to states and union territories for strengthening their healthcare systems upto district hospital level, based on the proposals submitted by them in their Program Implementation Plans (PIPs), subject to availability of resources. NHM adopts a health system approach and targets to build a network for public health facilities with health and wellness centres at the grassroot level and district hospitals, with robust referral linkage, to offer comprehensive primary and secondary care services to citizens," the minister added.