Topic : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.
2) India’s health system faces multipronged challenges, with most alarming one being acute shortage of doctors, discuss what are the constraints and challenges involved and what measures should be taken to combat this issue?(250 words)
Why this question:
Recently Niti Aayog, agreed to a proposal of Dental Council of India to allow dentists to practice as general physicians after a bridge course. The advancement has come following a meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office earlier this month in which it was urged that unconventional methods are to be adopted to address the shortage of doctors in the country, particularly in rural areas.
Key demand of the question:
The answer must explain the situation of shortage of doctors in the country’s health system and the recent approaches taken by the government to resolve it.
Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.
Structure of the answer:
Introduce by highlighting the fact that India has a shortage of doctors and that the doctor patient ratio is one of the lowest in the world.
- As India’s health system faces multipronged challenges, deficiency of doctors has emerged as one of the biggest roadblocks in the making of a new healthcare ecosystem. Currently, there is a shortfall of nearly two million doctors and four million nurses. Moreover, doctors’ numbers are also skewed towards a few States.
- Quote statistics – India has less than one doctor for every 1,000 citizens, which is less than the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard that prescribes a doctor population ratio of 1:1,000. If Ayush practitioners are included, India has 1.3 doctors for 1000 population. A Medical Council of India (MCI) report suggests that in July 2017, there were a total 10,22,859 allopathic doctors registered with the MCI or with state medical councils. As per the Aarogya Bharat Report, the shortfall of doctors is likely to continue till 2039. India is passing through a critical phase, and to deal with the situation, it needs urgent structural reforms.
- Explain the causes of the situation of shortage.
- Suggest what needs to be done and that such steps of bridge course are a welcome step.
Prioritizing areas with critical shortage of healthcare professionals especially doctors will be important. Moreover, regulations that enable private participation in medical education need to be created. Exploring public-private partnership (PPP) models to enable a rapid increase in medical education seats needs to be given priority. Focusing on primary care can help reduce hospitalization rates. And telemedicine and remote monitoring tools can be used to widen the reach of existing doctors and increase their productivity.