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Doctors: Shortage in rural areas

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There exists a huge shortage of doctors in rural areas
ROHIT KAUSHIK | Issue Dated: April 14, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Private hospital | Max | Apollo | Fortis | Health-care | Malnourishment |
 

Every other day, a new government offers a building to open a private hospital – Max, Apollo, Fortis are just some of players to name a few. Many think that the emergence of private hospitals will fast replace the poor government health-care infrastructure and help improve the overall health care of the country. But statistics are not in support of that. India’s shattered health-care system proved again that it has yet to go far to claim it is shining. A few facts will remove the myths. 42% of the children are malnourished in India, which is worse than even the Sub Saharan Africa figure of 28%. Shockingly, even though the economy grew 50% over the period of 2001-06, the rate of malnourishment declined by only 1%. 1.72 million children die every year before reaching the age of one year. India has now the 3rd highest number of HIV patients in the world.

Indian hospitals have a poor infrastructure and are severely ill-equipped with poor technology. Indian doctors do not have access to modern technology for the health care system. Moreover, the doctor to patient ratio is abysmally low. India has one doctor against 1,953 people. The total number of registered doctors in the country is only 5.5 lakh against such a massive population. There are many reasons for that too. Firstly, limitation of medical seats is hindering the supply of doctors in good volumes. Secondly, there is a massive migration of Indian doctors abroad. While the cost of reform may seem high, the cost of non-reform, if one goes by the World Health Organization’s calculation, would be higher. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that India’s GDP could be pulled back by 5% by 2015 and the country would suffer this economic loss due to the deaths caused by the various diseases.

Healthcare expenditure remains barely above 1%, which should reach 2.5% as is the case with the developed nations. Even though India has planned to invest $86 billion (Rs 3.7 lakh crore) over the next 15 years, with past experience, it is quite possible that India would not be able to reach the present hospital bed density levels like Brazil, China and the current world average. In a 2008 study focusing on the Ujjain district, researchers found that about 61% (almost 1.1 million people) of that district’s population live in rural areas, served by only 39 professionally qualified doctors. Obviously, there is a dire need of policies that make deployment of doctors in rural areas a reality, and accomplish it with a sense of urgency.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017