Government hopes to tackle shortage of doctors soon: Ramadoss

April 5th, 2008 - 12:33 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Acknowledging the severe crunch India is facing in the number of doctors, nurses and paramedics, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said Friday that since the government recognises the medical degrees issued by five English-speaking countries, including the US, Britain and Australia, it would help tide over the shortage. He said the government was taking a number of steps to overcome the shortfall in order to ensure that people are able to get quality medical care.

“There is no stop-gap arrangement. Yes, we know there is a shortfall of medical human resources in the country. The need has also been felt because of the expanding population,” Ramadoss told reporters after awarding undergraduate degrees to students at the Lady Hardindge Medical College (LHMC) at its 92nd convocation here.

The Planning Commission has said India faces a shortage of about 600,000 doctors, one million nurses, 200,000 dental surgeons and large numbers of paramedical staff.

“We have recognized postgraduate degrees of English speaking countries like the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This would also help us in some way as we hope that doctors would come to India to work here,” Ramadoss said when asked about the Planning Commission report.

The minister said the decision to recognize degrees of these countries was taken a few months back and the ministry would be considering including some more countries to the list.

The government is also upgrading the existing infrastructure and setting up new ones, Ramadoss added.

Hoping that the undergraduate and postgraduate students of LHMC would come back after their studies or jobs abroad, the minister said the “country needs them”.

“We need a lot more doctors, nurses, paramedics, psychologists and neurologists. But we have seen hundreds of doctors are coming back from the US and Europe to work in India,” he said addressing the medical students.

“This is happening because of the medical tourism boom in the country. This growing trend of doctors coming back to India is happening because they have realized that there are the same opportunities in our country as in the western countries,” he said.

“We are seeing a reverse trend. Patients from the US, Britain, Australia and Canada are coming here for medical treatment,” he added.

As LHMC is one of the colleges to be upgraded, the minister urged the students to be a leader and not a follower and work for the nation.

The minister said there are 700,000 doctors in the country and they need another 700,000. And in the same way, there are only 900,000 nurses in the country, but the need is for two million, he said.

The country also has only 200,000 dentists while the need is for another 500,000, he added.

Every year, 12,000 postgraduate students pass out, though the demand is for 30,000, Ramadoss said.

On being asked that the Planning Commission has said that the “only way” to meet the human resource crunch is to open the medical education sector “completely for private sector participation”, the minister said it was an “ongoing process.”

Ramadoss said there were plans to set up more medical colleges in Bihar, Uttar Pardesh and Madhya Pradesh as these states face an acute shortage of specialized doctors. In the 11th Five Year Plan the ministry plans spending most of the money on building infrastructure, he added.

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