Pune: With India celebrating its 70th Independence Day, basic and specialised affordable healthcare remains a distant dream for the common man. The sad truth remains that public healthcare system has a deficiency of around 5.5 lakh doctors in the country.
However, despite the increase in the number of private and government medical colleges, the shortfall highlighting the fact that young doctors are more inclined towards private practice. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the doctor-to-patient ratio should ideally be one doctor per 1,000 patients - but at present, in India, it is double - one doctor per 2,000 patients, noted an expert. This is, obviously, burdening the doctors.
Many MBBS graduates and post-graduates face functional hurdles like shortfall of nursing staff, technicians, anaesthetists and added-on administrative work - this burdens the doctor, especially in the rural set-up.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Anant Phadke, Co-convener of Jan Arogya Abhiyaan highlighted that the doctors are never treated respectfully in the government set-up and they face hostile attitudes from their seniors.
He also highlighted that the seniors in the set-up are also less appreciative towards the medical fraternity working with the government. “This instils a sense of frustration and so many young doctors opt to start with their private practice or work in a private hospital.”
Many working doctors have pointed out the low pay grades for MBBS and MD doctors. Dr Phadke said though the pay is better than what it used to be, incentives for those working in rural areas should be given.
“Most doctors want better living conditions for themselves and their families. In villages, there are no proper homes or schools. This should be addressed by the authorities as they often neglect the basic living condition of these doctors who give 8-10 years of their life to study medicine,” noted Phadke.
Phadke said that doctors also prefer working in better cities, as a result, better hospitals are concentrated in better-off states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Kerala.
Safety and brain drain
Safety against violence is also on a doctor’s mind. So much so, resident doctors in Maharashtra went on a strike for this reason in March this year. The response they got from the authorities was not satisfactory - which might deter many from studying medicine, noted a health expert.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Abhijit Vaidya, National President of Arogya Sena said that safety concern could force young doctors to move to private practice or even abroad for further studies. He warned that no government so far has actually done any work to address the grim situation in the public health care system.
“There has been no proper policy implementation or work on the ground to make the system doctor-patient friendly. The infrastructure is in a bad state that restricts a doctor from working to their full potential. Further, there is no opportunity for the doctor to upgrade their academic knowledge either. In the coming years this will make the shortfall numbers even larger ruling the public health system,” said Dr Vaidya.