Rural India is short of 16,000 doctors

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New Delhi: The next time you walk into a clinic for a cough and cold, spare a thought for your rural brethren. Latest government data reveals that rural India is short of over 16,000 doctors, including 12,000 specialists.

As many as 12,263 specialists are needed in community health centers (CHCs) and 3,789 doctors in primary health centers (PHCs),  Health Ministry statistics for 2009 show. The shortage is particularly acute in  villages of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

While the situation is often attributed to the unwillingness of doctors to work in difficult areas, others say not enough is being done to incentives such postings.

“In India, the patient-doctor ratio is around 1/30,000. And of course it will be higher in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh due to non-availability of doctors and lack of health facilities and proper infrastructure,” public health expert S. Sunder Raman said.

Health Ministry figures say 1,087 specialists and 614 doctors are needed in Madhya Pradesh and 1,442 specialists and 1,689 doctors in Uttar Pradesh. Surgeons, physicians and pediatricians come under the category of specialists.

The other states that face an acute shortage of trained medical practitioners in PHCs are — Assam (500 doctors), Orissa (413), Bihar (211), Gujarat (65) and Punjab (45).

Each PHC is targeted to cover a population of approximately 25,000. The PHCs act as referral centers for Community Health Centers (CHCs), which are 30-bed hospitals at the district level.

According to a Planning Commission report of 2008, India is short of 600,000 doctors, one million nurses and 200,000 dental surgeons.

An official in the Health Ministry said: “Many doctors are unwilling to work in difficult and hard-to-reach areas. This could be because in these far-off places, they face accommodation problems. Also, general infrastructure in remote areas poses problems (as they come from cities and towns),” the official said.The next time you walk into a clinic for a cough and cold, spare a thought for your rural brethren. Latest government data reveals that rural India is short of over 16,000 doctors, including 12,000 specialists.

As many as 12,263 specialists are needed in community health centers (CHCs) and 3,789 doctors in primary health centers (PHCs),  Health Ministry statistics for 2009 show. The shortage is particularly acute in  villages of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

While the situation is often attributed to the unwillingness of doctors to work in difficult areas, others say not enough is being done to incentives such postings.

“In India, the patient-doctor ratio is around 1/30,000. And of course it will be higher in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh due to non-availability of doctors and lack of health facilities and proper infrastructure,” public health expert S. Sunder Raman said.

Health Ministry figures say 1,087 specialists and 614 doctors are needed in Madhya Pradesh and 1,442 specialists and 1,689 doctors in Uttar Pradesh. Surgeons, physicians and pediatricians come under the category of specialists.

The other states that face an acute shortage of trained medical practitioners in PHCs are — Assam (500 doctors), Orissa (413), Bihar (211), Gujarat (65) and Punjab (45).

Each PHC is targeted to cover a population of approximately 25,000. The PHCs act as referral centers for Community Health Centers (CHCs), which are 30-bed hospitals at the district level.

According to a Planning Commission report of 2008, India is short of 600,000 doctors, one million nurses and 200,000 dental surgeons.

An official in the Health Ministry said: “Many doctors are unwilling to work in difficult and hard-to-reach areas. This could be because in these far-off places, they face accommodation problems. Also, general infrastructure in remote areas poses problems (as they come from cities and towns),” the official said.

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