The Minister of State for Health in India brought to attention the poor condition of healthcare in India last week by specifically focusing on doctor shortage. Problems with qualification add to troubles, bringing forward the need for changes.
In a written reply at the Parliament, Cabinet Minister Faggan Singh Kulaste informed the country that if Allopathic as well as Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathic doctors are counted together, there is a total of 1 doctor to every 831 patients in India. The ratio is even less if allopathic doctors alone are considered.
“Assuming 80 pc availability of doctors, it is estimated that around 767 thousand (allopathic) doctors may be actually available for service. It gives a doctor is to population ratio of 1:1681”, said the Minister.
This statement was released as a reply to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report that showed the low numbers of doctor availability. However, this was not the only concern for WHO in terms of healthcare improvement in India.
The WHO report on India’s healthcare workforce brought forward the issue of quackery, by stating that only one in five doctors had the necessary qualification to practice medicine, in rural India. The report took data from the 2001 Census and it was published in June this year. It asserted that one-third of doctors who claimed to be allopathic doctors had only a Class 12 level education, equivalent to the baccalauréat in the French education system. The report alarmingly outlines that 57 pc of the practitioners are not having any form of medical qualification at all.
If Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook is to be considered, India has a disturbingly low rate of physicians compared to the other developed nations in the world. Taking data from 2012, Germany had 3.89 physicians for every 1,000 Germans, Norway had 4.28 physicians per 1,000 population, whereas Portugal provides 4.1 for every 1000. When compared to India, the country stands at 0.7 physicians per 1000.
Need for strong and drastic measures
Despite the unearthing of the dismal situation of healthcare and the involvement of skilled doctors in the country, severe action is pending. A detailed investigation and a meticulous plan of action to turn around the situation is the need of the hour it seems. To be addressed are issues such as lack of availability and absence of appropriately trained doctors at each and every part of India.