Only one-third of India’s government doctors work in villages where almost 70% of the population lives, according to data from a government health report released on Thursday.
The Central Bureau of Health Intelligence’s National Health Profile (NHP) 2013 shows only 29,562 of India’s 1,06,613 government doctors work in villages, and the number of specialists in rural areas is even lower. Only 5,805 specialists work in villages.
India has 9,18,303 doctors in the government and private sector for its 1.21 billion people, but most private practitioners and specialists choose to work in urban areas.
“We all know there is shortage of doctors but these numbers give us the exact situation. It is crucial to give exact numbers to policymakers to ensure policies are drafted keeping in mind the actual needs of the people,” said Lov Verma, Union health secretary.
The NHP’s 9th edition provides the latest data on all major health sector-related indicators in a comprehensive manner.
“To achieve the ‘health for all’ goal, data development is very critical. We need to have all possible health sector numbers handy to ensure the target is met at the earliest. I plan to assign a senior person as nodal officer in each state to supervise the work progress,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, health minister.
Dr Vardhan’s plan is to have information such as the location of nearest doctors, hospitals, paramedics and pharmacies available for people at the click of a mouse.
A pilot project to map health services in three districts of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Nagaland was started last month with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.