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India needs 600,000 more doctors: Plan Panel

April 07, 2008 11:29 IST

Painting a grim picture on the healthcare sector, the Planning Commission has blamed the shortage of medical professionals for the dismal scenario. There was a requirement of at least 600,000 more doctors, it said.

The situation is particularly bad in the public healthcare sector, a high-level group of the Commission said in a report last week.

The public healthcare has been on a serious decline during the last two or three decades because of non- availability of medical and paramedical staff, diagnostic services and medicines.

The situation in availability of specialist manpower in Community Health Centres is particularly bad as against the sanctioned posts.

About 59.4 per cent surgeons, 45 per cent obstetricians and gynecologists, 61 per cent physicians and 53 per cent paediatricians were not in position, the report said.

The number of doctors registered by different state councils stood at 6,68,131 during the year 2006 giving a doctor to population ratio of 60:100000.

The state wide distribution of doctors was also highly skewed with certain states like Karnataka and Union Territories such as Delhi and Goa having a favourable ratio and other states like Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh being under-served, the group said.

If the targeted doctor population norm is taken as 1:1000, there is a requirement of at least 600,000 doctors.

The group also drew attention to the acute shortage of dental surgeons in India.

The number of dental surgeons registered in India stood at 73,271 against the requirement of 282,130 in 2007, it said.

There is a similar shortage of nurses. While the ideal population of nurses should have been 2,188,890 in 2007, currently only 1,156,372 nurses were available.

Asserting that the overriding requirement in the country is for increasing the supply of human resources at all levels, from specialists to paramedical personnel and to improve their quality, the group headed by commission member Anwarul Hoda said it would be accomplished by opening the medical education sector completely for private sector participation.

Private companies should be allowed to establish medical and dental colleges just as they have been allowed to open nursing colleges, it said.

Other entry barriers such as land and built-up space should be lowered to realistic levels.

The recommendations, submitted by the group to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, also asked the government to fill up vacant posts in order to improve quality of teaching in government medical colleges and to enable these colleges provide higher incentives.

The paramedical council for regulatory purposes and the proposed institute of Paramedical Sciences should be established at the earliest to cope with the shortage of paramedical staff, it said.

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