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Shortage of Doctors in India; A Hard Reality

Are we ready to deal with India's scarcity of doctors?

Our country is way below the WHO recommendation of the 1:1000 doctor to population ratio. Only one in eleven states in India meet the WHO standard, meanwhile none in the healthcare sector meet these criteria. 

Apart from the shortage of doctors, India’s health care sector is also facing a major crisis in the form of inefficient human resources and inadequate infrastructure. Over the past several years, India has lost many lives due to a shortage of healthcare workers, especially doctors in government hospitals.

Assuming there is 80% availability of doctors, with the number registered with the Board of Governors/State Medical Councils/Medical Council, it is estimated that only 9.26 lakhs doctors may be actively available for service. The correct data is always a mismatch as some doctors may retire, some may move to hospital administration or some may go overseas without removing their names from the register. 

On average, for a population of 1.36 billion, the doctor-population ratio is 1:1457, which is much lesser than the WHO recommended ratio of 1:1000.


Rural India: The perennial scapegoat

The primary healthcare centers in the country are in dire need of at least 3000 doctors with almost 1974 centers functioning without even a single doctor. The community health centers in rural areas, face a severe shortfall of over 5000 surgeons. 

About 15,700, primary health centers in India are operating with just one doctor. It is estimated that there is a shortage of about 600,000 doctors in India and this crisis is likely to end by 2022 if there is an increase in the number of seats in medical hospitals.


State-wise disparity in the ratio

States like Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab, and Goa have more doctors than the WHO norm of one for 1000 people. Despite this, there aren’t enough doctors for the rural public health system. The density of doctors per 1000 people in the state of Tamilnadu is 4. It is 3 in Delhi, 1.5 in Kerala and Karnataka, and 1.3 in Punjab and Goa. 

Most doctors from these states are apprehensive about moving to places like Bihar or UP where there is a severe shortage of doctors. In places like Jharkhand, there is only 1 doctor for 8000+ people and in Haryana, it’s one for 6000+ people. In states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, there is only 1 doctor for 3000+ people.

According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Public Health, If India wants to achieve the 1:1000 ratio, we will need 2.07 million more doctors by 2030. As opposed to the global average of 6% of the GDP for public healthcare, our government has spared just 1.3% for this. The shortage of government doctors would imply that more people would end up paying an exorbitant amount of money in private hospitals. 


Are we equipped to handle the COVID-19 crisis?

Keeping up the proportion of doctors to the 1.36 billion population is the first measure in the fight against coronavirus. The need of the hour is to take care of the mismatch in the demand and supply in healthcare infrastructure. Most hospitals are following rigorous shifts for doctors to contain the spread of the infection. Several reports are coming up almost every other day, of doctors quarantining themselves after contracting the virus. 

All the states must meet the basic healthcare requirements; doctors, nurses, and personal protective equipment (PPEs), etc. to tackle this unprecedented situation. 


How MedPiper helps with the sudden demand of healthcare practitioners 

We must be aware that the current situation is critical and there is always a huge emergency need for doctors and nurses. At MedPiper, we verify and onboard Doctors and match them with hospitals and organizations based on requirements. Hospitals get exclusive access to applicants, from GPs, locum doctors, to contractual and permanent staff, reducing time-to-hire, revenue leakage, and ensuring high-quality treatment. 

By working with practitioners, governments, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, and companies, we intend to equip, enable, and build ease-of-access of the gamut of services and options available to practitioners. We make sure there is no delay in quality treatment being meted out to patients during times of need, be it a pandemic or any other untoward incidents like accidents, trauma cases, etc.

Author: Vinay Prakash, Head of Policy, MedPiper Technologies

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