India increases hospital construction as population grows, yet there are not enough physicians.
Reuters, NEW DELHI – The 21-year-old Mithilesh Chaudhary, who had spent the night outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), a government-run facility in New Delhi, coughs weakly as he tries to stand up.
His grandpa Bhim Lal remarked, “We have been sleeping on the footpath for two nights,” as the two waited in a queue of approximately 100 people outside the hospital’s main entrance for an appointment.
He has chest congestion, but no one has been able to pinpoint the specific cause. After visiting many hospitals in our area, a private hospital’s doctor eventually suggested that we go to the AIIMS in Delhi.
NEW DELHI, Reuters – Mithilesh Chaudhary, age 21, coughs weakly as he tries to stand up after spending the night outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), a government-run hospital in New Delhi.
His grandpa Bhim Lal said, “We have been sleeping on the footpath for two nights,” as the two waited in a queue of about 100 people outside the hospital’s main door for an appointment.
No one has been able to determine the precise reason of his chest congestion. The doctor at a private hospital eventually recommended that we visit the AIIMS in Delhi after we visited other hospitals in our neighborhood.
The issue is a doctor shortage, which is getting worse as India overtakes China as the world’s most populated country.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India’s doctor-to-patient ratio reached a record high of 1.2 physicians per 1,000 patients in 1991, but as its population grew, the ratio decreased to roughly 0.7 in 2020.
With a population similar to India’s, China is at the WHO-recommended threshold of 2.4.
In March, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya testified in front of the legislature that India really had a doctor to patient ratio of 1 to 834, which was far higher than the WHO standard. However, this statistic included physicians who practiced conventional medicine, such as Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, and Naturopathy.
Practitioners of traditional medicine are excluded from figures made by the WHO and medical associations like the Indian Medical Association.
Last month, when he opened the first specialist medical facility in northeast India, Modi stated that his administration had aimed to expand the number of physicians by establishing additional medical schools.
According to him, a significant obstacle to high-quality healthcare in India was this shortcoming. Therefore, during the past nine years, our government has worked extensively to expand the medical infrastructure and the number of medical experts.
According to official data, the number of public hospitals has increased by almost 9% during Modi’s tenure as president, excluding specialist institutions.
According to data from the health ministry, the government has increased the number of undergraduate medical seats at private and public institutions by almost double, from 51,348 in 2014 to 101,043 as of March.
Last year, more than 1.76 million students took the examinations to fill those slots.
In spite of this, the health ministry informed lawmakers in February that there were more than 3,000 doctor openings at 31 significant federal government hospitals, including more than a dozen specialist institutions. More than 21,000 positions for nurses and support workers were open.
In the previous five years, the medicine department of the Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College, an 800-bed hospital in the mostly rural Bhagalpur region of Bihar, has just half the number of physicians needed, according to a senior physician. This department is the first point of contact for patients.
The doctor, who declined to be identified, added, “We have to provide proper patient care regardless… but with an inadequate staff, the workload increases and becomes very difficult to manage, especially since we also have to teach undergraduates.”
The shortage of specialized treatment outside of major cities is particularly severe. According to the government, as of March 2022, there was a shortfall of about 80% of surgeons, doctors, gynecologists, and pediatricians in community health centers in rural India.
According to official data, these tiny hospitals only have 4,485 experts on staff compared to a need for 21,920.
According to Dr. K. Srinath Reddy of the nonprofit Public Health Foundation of India, specialists frequently leave India for foreign countries or work in the private sector in major cities.
They may not be emotionally or skillfully suited to work in rural areas with little resources because they received their training in tertiary care settings, according to Reddy.
People in rural regions frequently go to cities for medical care, according to Dr. Vandana Prasad, a technical consultant with the nonprofit Public Health Resource Network.
“There is a certain level of trust in the hospitals that are present in larger metropolitan cities, and there is a kind of environment that suggests to people that they should seek more and more expensive or more specialised care,” she added.
According to Dr. Syed Ahmed, a resident physician at the AIIMS in Delhi, this was the primary cause of the significant number of patients and the throngs outside the hospital.
Many of the situations, he claimed, could be handled at the primary care level.