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Rural Health Care Solutions – Long Term and Short Term

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By Ritika Chawla

In his annual speech in 2008, PM Manmohan Singh said that the most challenging task facing healthcare is serious shortage of doctors and nurses in India’s rural areas. According to official figures (keep in mind they are just official figures!) there is a shortage of over 16,000 doctors in rural India!

If we look at the situation closely we see that there is general unwillingness among practitioners of medicine to practice their skills in villages due to lack of infrastructure, opportunities and low salaries. However the problem is more deep rooted than it appears. There are only 34,000 seats available per year for graduating in MBBS. So,there is only 1 doctor for 30,000 people! And a large number of youngsters prefer to migrate abroad because of better opportunities and facilities provided there. In Europe with their easy e111 applications and benefits, it’s no wonder there is an overall dearth of doctors in India, though this problem is more prevalent in rural areas. Now the shortage of doctors in villages is not the only issues. It has been seen that doctors who are posted in villages fail to perform up to the set standards. Then there is problem absenteeism among the staff, lack of required resources for treatment (beds, medicine etc.), cases of one doctor for every medical ailment and so on.

Now the question is that how do we ensure quality health services to our brethren residing in rural regions of our country. One suggestion that often comes up is that you make it a part of curriculum for students pursuing medicine to provide their services in rural areas for one term. This may help in overcoming the problem of shortage to some extent. However will this help in ensuring quality as well? One can never say. The most effective solution to the problem should be increased incentives to doctors to set up their clinics in rural areas. In the long run this can be done by overall development of these areas in terms of infrastructure and the like. But we have got to act in short term as well. To make things better in short term doctors can be provided with higher salaries, extra services over and above the salary and more flexible environment for working. Also government needs to make the implementation process more effective. More strictness in case of performance deficiencies and absenteeism needs to be practiced. Moreover government should also ensure timely provision of needed resources. Also it needs to keep an eye on potential leakage spots and scope for corruption in this system of rural healthcare.

We need to understand that villages and small towns are reservoirs of human resources. And access to basic health facilities is indispensible to turning these potential reservoirs into full grown resources.

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  1. Nagraj

    Who so ever …has written this or the author…or to very clever readers,,,,
    point is not only of shortage of doctors..but also of lack of government willingness to do good for the people.
    u need more doctors..but at the same time…u force them one year stint to go to rural place where not even clean drinking water is being provided…….who will want to become a doctor…to do all hardship and earn pennies when their counterpart engineer friends MBAs earns his income in lacs and almost gets settled 5 years earlier than him,
    improve your outlook dear indians…..
    when a mistake is comitted by a doctor …20 politicians and their bribed touts come and destroy the working place of the doctor and his clinics….medias create havoc…and at same time when a bridge colapses and 100 dies……no one catch hold of contractors or engineers….or the politician involved in that scam…….
    u want real healthy india….the best solution is to open medical colleges in rural india…let the doctors passing out from there do a rural service (internship) in that area itself………dont add to number of years required to become a doctor…

    1. ritika

      i understand and appreciate your opinion. when you say that we should open medical college in rural areas you need to keep in mind that the issue is the very lack of infrastructure in these areas. opening a college does not guarantee medical services to the residents of that place. we would rather open a hospital. moreover a 2 month of interning in rural areas as a part of curriculum would help medical cause without adding much to the course duration. however its important to make it mandatory as not many students may be willing to work in such places.
      thanks 🙂

  2. Ankit Dwivedi

    Gud work… The suggestion of making rural term compulsory is good, but seems to me less practical.
    The basic idea of considering health services, a business sector of unlimited investment seems to me the core problem. Why a doctor who is earning fat money from urban elites would go for rural market? All of us are aware how harshly people specially poor are handled by big hospitals and health sector giants.

    Don’t take my ideas towards socialism or communism, but my idea is of limiting earning capacity of doctors and restricting hospitals from earning profits beyond a limit or using profits for health service providing only. Regulating financial audits of doctors making big money can help corporatism.

    Also infrastructural help to doctors establishing health centers in rural areas may attract many towards rural market. Some compulsory payments could also be given by Panchayats for large villages.

    These are simply my personal opinions.
    Keep writing.

  3. Rajneesh Tiwari

    One more option is to allow the power of prescription to the registered nurses & post them in these areas/

  4. Kusuma Kumari G

    Very true Teh soul of India rests in Viallages and if we wnat village helath care to imroove we must work hard for viallge based economy

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