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Doctors at large

The good news for 2013 is that six new AIIMS-like institutes will enable the treatment of more villagers, Sanchita Sharma writes.

delhi Updated: Jan 01, 2013 00:27 IST
Sanchita Sharma

How many doctors are there in India? No one has a reliable number. All we know is that there aren’t enough to go around. But 2013 just might change things for the better.

The MCI’s Indian Medical Register (IMR) has an all-India figure — 758,866 on February 28, 2010, at last count. This is the cumulative list of all doctors who registered to practice in India since 1933, including the dead, retired, emigrated as well as those in non-clinical fields such as forensics, anatomy and pharmacology. All in all, there is a shortfall of about 200,000 doctors.

For most of us in need of medical services, 2012 was a good year. After close to a decade of dithering, six AIIMS-like institutes to train young doctors are up and running in Bihar, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Raipur and Rishikesh. The cost: Rs. 840 crore each, with an additional Rs. 20 crore for nursing colleges.

The benefit: MBBS students started their training to be doctors in September 2012.

So the good news is that from 2013 more doctors will be added to the mystery number. The six colleges will add 300 doctors to India’s pool every year.

It is also possible that the additional workforce will ease the situation in rural India, which is the worst-hit by shortages of medical personnel.

This, in turn, could take some of the pressure off the large tertiary care hospitals like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the last and very distant resort of villagers.