Dearth of doctors: Still a Major Concern in India

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In India, first of July is observed as Doctor’s Day. It is celebrated to emphasize the value that doctors hold in our lives and this day is meant to pay them respect for their selfless service. However, No one can deny the fact that over the last couple of years, doctors in India are feeling unsafe and threatened. A threat perception; a feeling of insecurity has been constantly looming over the already-burdened minds of medicos in our country. Once called ‘living gods on earth’, they are now frequently bearing tags such as ‘Dr. Death’ and ‘Dacoit Doctor’.

The episodes of assaults on doctors and threats have become so prevalent that doctors have united against this threat. Recently, an attack on junior doctors in West Bengal became the seed for a successful nationwide strike by all doctors with a notice of just two days. Some patient attendants in NRS Medical College Hospital attacked junior doctors after which, medics staged a strike. This strike got support from across the country, including the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which declared an All India Protest.

Speaking about the episode, Dr. Kapil Kochhar, Additional Director, Department of Bariatric, Minimal access & General Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Noida said,“According to data released by the health ministry in June last year, there is only one government allopathic doctor per 11,082 population, one government hospital bed per 1,844 population and one state-run hospital for every 55,591 population. The situation is so dire in the country that a 2017 study in the medical journal BMJ, the average time that primary care physicians spend with patients in India at an abysmal 2 minutes which is mainly due to the excessive burden on doctors. The data clearly reflects that India has a dearth of doctors.”

India is not just struggling with paucity of doctors, but our doctors work under challenging situations as well – poor or limited infrastructure, high in flow of patient, no holidays and no personal lives. Despite this, facing ire of the masses without sufficient reason can be overwhelming. If the trust between doctors and patients wanes, our country’s healthcare system will stand to crumble.

Speaking about the situation, “Mr. Vivek Srivastava, CEO, HCAH, “India is already struggling with a shortage of medical infrastructure and skilled manpower. While Ayushman Bharat is a significant step in the direction of increasing affordability, accessibility of quality healthcare still remains a concern. Home healthcare industry is also extensively working towards bridging the gap and is an immediate, cost effective and comfortable alternate to make quality healthcare affordable, accessible and available in all parts of the country without heavy investments on infrastructure. On the other end, if such attacks on doctors happen, it becomes difficult for the overall healthcare fraternity to deliver quality care and services and also leads to dysfunctional relationship between the doctors and patients.”

There is an immediate need to bring transparency among the society by highlighting the scarcity of doctors in India, showcasing the conditions in which Indian doctors work and most importantly by emphasizing on the need to express gratitude and empathy towards the doctors.

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