July 25, 2008

8% of primary health centres don't have docs

In the wake of the dismal state of rural health services, government may make a one-year stint in the villages mandatory for MBBS students before they can apply for a postgraduate degree.

According to the recent National Rural Health Mission report, nearly 8% of the country's 22,669 primary health centres don't have a doctor while nearly 39% were running without a lab technician and 17.7% without a pharmacist.

The condition of the 3,910 community health centres, supposed to provide specialized medical care, is equally appalling. Out of the sanctioned strength, posts of 59.4% surgeons, 45% obstetricians and gynaecologists, 61.1% physicians and 53.8% pediatricians are vacant.

India churns out 29,500 medical graduates annually, but most of them are reluctant to serve in villages and would rather join the private sector for better salaries and an urban posting. In effect, 67% of doctors enrolled for rural posting remain absent from duty.

Also, there is only one allopathic doctor for 1,634 people. According to MCI, the total number of registered allopathic doctors in the country is 6,83,582.

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