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Friday, September 24, 2010

India’s health system IN SICK BAY

Less than 1 hosp bed for every 1,000 Indians 

The only silver lining in the study is that India holds the top position in the number of medical and nursing colleges—-303 and 3,904 respectively. But then, despite having less than half the number of medical colleges as compared to India, the United States has more doctors on its rolls. "There could be many possibilities, but brain drain could be one of the main reasons,'' said Desai. Statistics suggest that in 2008 nearly one-tenth of doctors in the UK were not British citizens, while the percentage stood at 26% in the US.

Mumbai: In the recent past, India has been resting on its medical laurels, but an international survey has revealed that the reality is an altogether different story. The country's healthcare system fails miserably in almost all parameters when compared to six developed and developing nations such as the US and UK, China, Brazil, and Singapore, reveals a newly released study. The most telling finding was that despite having 10.8 lakh beds—the second highest among all the countries surveyed—there is less than one bed for every 1,000 people.
    The joint study was conducted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and HOSMAC, a hospital planning and management consultancy firm. The UK tops the bed-patient ratio parameter with 3.9 beds higher than WHO's norm of three beds per 1,000 people. India's burgeoning population, say industry experts, cannot be used as an excuse given that China has 40.63 lakh beds, and meets WHO's norms (see box).

    The report stated that to achieve the desirable norm a minimum of one-lakh beds have to be added to the country's existing kitty over the next 30 years. "About two-third of these beds have to come up in rural areas to ensure an even development of health infrastructure,'' said director of FICCI Shobha Mishra Ghosh, adding that in some areas even the UAE and Brazil surpass India in providing medical care.
    China has successfully managed to create an efficient healthcare system with an army of medical personnel. In terms of manpower, our neighbour has three times
the number of doctors working in India, and 1.22 crore nurses. India has only 13.72 lakh nurses.
    According to industry watchers, policy-makers must acknowledge that in the healthcare expenditure pie, the government's share is only around 26%. "One suggestion is that the government should emphasize on primary and secondary healthcare facilities, while leaving tertiary centres to the private sector,'' she added.
    It goes unsaid that the urban-rural divide has to be addressed. "The government has to provide lucrative incentives for private players to move to rural and
semi-urban areas,'' said managing director of HOSMAC, Dr Vivek Desai.


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