New Delhi: A recent study showed that to achieve a moderate doctor-population ratio of 1:1000 India will need to have a registered stock of 2,074,350 doctors by 2030.
A recent article “Aggregate Availability of Doctors in India: 2014-2030” published in the July-September issue of Indian Journal of Public Health by Basant Potnuru from the FORE School of Management states that there is a need for about 1,476,000 practicing doctors in 2030 to meet a doctor-population ratio of 1:1000 people.
To calculate the estimated number of doctors required, the paper has used Medical Council of India’s historical data from 1960–2015 on registration stock of doctors obtained from the Indian medical registers and it has also accessed other data on emigration of doctors accessed from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and destination country sources.
The paper found that there were only 4.8 practicing doctors per 10,000 populations available in India in 2014, in contrast to the belief of having 7 doctors per 10,000 people. Rest of the registered doctors have either retired or emigrated from the country to practice abroad. It is estimated that the country would be able to achieve a ratio of about 6.9 practicing doctors per 10,000 people only by 2030.
According to the WHO and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has 7 doctors per 10,000 populations. However, this ratio is derived based on the registration stock of doctors in India accumulated including those doctors who have qualified and registered ever since the early 20th century without adjusted to attrition of the strength due to retirement, discontinuation of practice, emigration and death of doctors.
The study further mentioned that there were 600,031 doctors available for practice in India in 2014 to serve its 1,239 million populations with a doctor-population ratio of just 4.84 per 10,000 people in contrast to the government data.
The study noted that due to unavailability of data, the leakage of doctors for reasons such as those who discontinued medical practice due to change in profession, death or for any other reason during 1979–2014 (35-year period) is assumed to be zero and taking into account of only two important causes of attrition of doctors such as retirement and emigration, the strength of practicing doctors reduced by 36.5% of the stock and the doctor-population ratio slipped from 7 to 4.8 per 10,000 populations.
The study further stated that if the registration stock of doctors continues to increase at the rate it has increased in the last two decades, the availability of practicing doctors in 2030 will be 1,018,008, after deductions made for retirement and emigration of doctors. This would give a ratio of only 6.9 practicing doctors per 10,000 people in 2030, given Indian population estimation of 1476 million in 2030.
The study concluded that given these findings of the current availability of doctors per 10,000 people and their growth prospects over the next 15-year period, it looks like an impossible task to achieve even a moderate doctor-population ratio of 1:1000 by 2030. Therefore, a genuine commitment to provide equitable healthcare to the rural population must innovate and experiment a special cadre of practitioners for rural areas on a pan-India basis.
To read the full article click on the article: Aggregate availability of doctors in India: 2014–2030