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Healthcare for poor: Only 1 in 10 doctors join government hospitals

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BENGALURU: A majority of India’s population may still be dependent on public healthcare, especially the poor, but only one in ten doctors in India serve at government hospitals or facilities.

From lesser pay compared to the private sector to other facilities that doctors in the latter get, experts point to a host of reasons for 90% of the doctors opting for jobs in the private sector, while also arguing that years of apathy has led to this situation.

As per the data from the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, only 1.1 lakh or 10% of the 10.8 lakh registered allopathy doctors in India are working with the government.

While the problem is severe is states like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh that do not produce enough number of doctors, it is more than apparent even in states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu that churn out the maximum number of doctors in the country.

For instance, as against the national average of 10% of the doctors joining the public sector, only 4.8% of the 1 lakh-odd doctors registered in Karnataka are with the government. In Tamil Nadu, it is 5.6% while Maharashtra has 4.3% of doctors serving in the government sector. Andhra Pradesh-Telangana combined have 9.3% of the registered doctors with government.

Dr Thelma Narayan, a public health expert and senior advisor at Sochar, says: “It is high time that the issue is debated in the public. As it is there is a shortage of allopathy doctors in India, and with the majority of them in private sector, a large majority of Indians are not getting access to healthcare. There needs to be a proper legislation in this regard, and we are looking forward for one.”

Experts also point out that it is not merely a problem of salary that lures doctors to the private sector, but also several other factors. “For instance, the day-to-day functioning of doctors with the government sector is very different from those in the private sector. The latter are more comfortable,” one of them said.

Nationally, there’s only one government doctor for 11,082 citizens, while there is only one government doctor for 20,000 people in Uttar Pradesh, 18,518 in Jharkhand, 17,192 in Madhya Pradesh, 17,000 in Maharashtra and 13,556 in Karnataka.

Dr Ajith Benedict Rayan, who has been practicing medicine for 27 years, says: “The problem is that government hospitals are not have up-to-date with technology and infrastructure. In private hospitals doctors have a better chance of learning on the job. Also, the doctors with the private sector are taken care of better compared to their counterparts in the public sector and I am not just talking about salaries.”

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