BioVoice News December 2016-January 2017 Issue 8 Volume 1 - Page 30

expert corner


The allopathic medicine practitioners in the remote areas should be only conditional and not to be treated as the permanent replacement for trained medical professionals , writes Dr Dharminder Nagar , Managing Director , Paras Healthcare
Earlier this year , the World Health Organization published a report titled the Health Workforce in India , which brought forth eye-opening statistics about healthcare in the country . It found that in 2001 nearly one-third of the practitioners calling themselves ‘ allopathic doctors ’ were educated up to only secondary school level , while a whopping 57.3 % did not have a medical qualification . Expectedly , this scenario was more distressing in rural areas where only 18.8 % of the ‘ allopathic doctors ’ had any medical qualification .
The report also suggests a huge skew in availability of doctors in favor of urban areas with the urban density of medical practitioners 4 times higher than rural . The document states that together , allopathic , ayurvedic , homeopathic and unani medical practitioners accounted for a strength of 79.7 doctors per lakh population in India .
While the WHO mandates a doctorpatient ratio of 1:1000 , in India it is as low as 1:1674 . More recent data by the Medical Council of India tells us that the total number of doctors in India as on 30.09.2014 was 9.32 lakhs . Apart from them , 6.8 lakh AYUSH practitioners also practice across the country .
When seen in this light , the government ’ s proposal to initiate a process of integration of AYUSH doctors into the fold of modern medicine makes some sense . The Government is contemplating a radical move to provide a short
‘ bridge course ’ to AYUSH practitioners to equip them to dispense basic medical care at the primary healthcare level . According to media reports , the health ministry has already worked out details of an MoU with IGNOU for providing such a course for Ayurveda , Yoga , Unani , Siddha and Homoeopathy practitioners that will pave the way for them to prescribe basic allopathic medicines as well ( albeit after approval by the Medical Council of India ).
Debate is rife on whether this move will have more negative outcomes than benefits . The proponents of the initiative consider it a positive move that will help India inch towards meeting the goal of universal healthcare by improving access and delivery in remote areas . On the other hand , the Indian Medical Association is strongly opposed to the proposal , which they consider tantamount to legalizing ‘ quackery ’.
The reality , however , lies somewhere in between the two extreme views !
Improving access in remote areas
For those of us who have spent most of our lives in relatively affluent urban zones , it is hard to fathom the extent of deprivation faced by India ’ s rural masses , especially in the healthcare domain . A pragmatic analysis of the condition of healthcare in rural and remote areas will tell us that shortage of doctors is a major problem bedeviling the rural hospitals and primary healthcare centres . According to Rural Health
BioVoiceNews | December 2016 - January 2017