India’s doctor-population ratio at 1:854 is better than the World Health Organisation’s standard of 1:1000, Union Minister of State Bharati Pravin Pawar informed the Lok Sabha on Friday. She also said there are 34.33 lakh registered nursing personnel and 13 lakh allied and healthcare professionals in the country.
According to the information provided by the National Medical Commission (NMC), there are 13,08,009 allopathic doctors registered with State Medical Councils and the National Medical Commission as on June, 2022, she said.
“Assuming 80 per cent availability of registered allopathic doctors and 5.65 lakh AYUSH doctors, the doctor-population ratio in the country is 1:834, which is better than the WHO standard of 1:1000. Also, there are 34.33 lakh registered nursing personnel and 13 lakh Allied and Healthcare professionals in the country,” the Minister of Sate for Health said in a written reply.
Pawar was responding to a question on whether there is a dearth of doctors/nurses/other paramedics in the country along with details of present norms regarding the ratios of doctors and patients, nurses and patients, hospital beds and patients along with the steps taken to bridge these gaps as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations (UN) health indices.
Responding to another question, she said to ensure that post graduate (PG) medical seats are not left vacant, the government has reduced the benchmark percentile for admission in PG degree and diploma courses, and the counselling for all India quota PG (Broad Specialty) seats has been increased to four rounds from the year 2021. For making rapid growth in the number of allied medical seats in the country, the government has enacted the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions (NCAHP) Act, 2021 and an interim commission has been notified under the provisions of NCAHP Act, 2021. The primary responsibility for administering health personnel and availability of sufficient number of beds as per need in government hospitals lies with the state government concerned.
Listing steps to further increase the availability of doctors in the country, particularly in ‘under served’ regions, Pawar said the number of UG (under graduate) seats have increased from 51,348 before 2014 to 91,927 seats as on date, which is an increase of 79 per cent, Pawar said in her written reply.
The number of PG seats have increased by 93 per cent from 31,185 seats before 2014 to 60,202 seats.
The steps to increase doctor-patients ratio include centrally sponsored scheme for establishment of new medical colleges by upgrading district/referral hospitals under which 157 new medical colleges have been approved and 72 are already functional, Pawar said. The steps also include Centrally Sponsored Scheme for strengthening or upgradation of existing state government/central government medical colleges to increase MBBS and PG seats and central sector scheme for upgradation of government medical colleges by the construction of super specialty blocks. A total of 75 projects have been approved and 55 completed.
Under the Central Sector Scheme for setting up of new AIIMS, 22 AIIMS have been approved and under graduate courses have started in 19 AIIMS.
Also, the government has relaxed the norms for setting up of medical colleges in terms of requirement for faculty, staff, bed strength and other infrastructure, and Diplomate of National Board (DNB) qualification has been recognised for appointment as faculty to take care of shortage of faculty. Steps also include enhancement of age limit for appointment/extension/re-employment against posts of teachers/dean/principal/director in medical colleges up to 70 years. The tenure of senior residency for appointment of Assistant Professor has been reduced from three years to one year. Under the District Residency Programme (DRP), all the doctors admitted to PG courses from 2022 onwards to serve in the district hospitals for three months mandatorily.
The government has also taken several steps to increase the nurse-patient ratio in the country, Pawar said.
For nursing educational programmes, the student-patient ratio has been relaxed from 1:5 to 1:3, and the land requirement for Nursing Educational Institutes from 3 acres has been relaxed to 54,000 sq ft for School/College of Nursing, including hostels, she said.
To open GNM (General Nursing and Midwifery) and BSc (Nursing) programme, 100-bedded parent hospital is essential since 2013-2014. However, this is relaxed for hilly and tribal areas.
Further norms for teaching faculty to start BSc (N) Programme has also been relaxed, the MoS added.
“Also super speciality hospitals can start MSc (N) without having under graduate programme, distance from school to hospital has been relaxed and eligibility criteria for admission to nursing programmes has also been relaxed, among others,” she added.