July 07, 2011

MCI to keep tab on doctors' count

India's "invisible doctors" are giving the Medical Council of India (MCI) a major headache.

According to MCI's Indian Medical Register that was last updated in April 2011, the nation supposedly boasts of 840,678 registered medical practitioners.

The data includes names of doctors who were registered way back in 1933. Chances of these doctors being alive is dim, admits MCI.

Till date, neither the Union health ministry nor MCI has strictly pushed for re-registration of doctors, thanks to which, India isn't sure about how many doctors it actually has.

MCI will ask the ministry to make it mandatory for all doctors to re-register with the country's 24 state medical boards, and MCI every five years.

This will help keep a tab on how many doctors registered with MCI are still alive, how many have retired or how many have left for abroad.

MCI governing body chairman Dr S K Sarin said, "We will be asking the Union health ministry to bring in several new regulations. One of which will be to make re-registration for doctors mandatory. Re-certification and revalidation of doctors is essential. It will help us understand exactly how many and who still are in active practise in India. The available data includes many doctors who would have migrated abroad or may not be living anymore."

According to officials associated with Indian Medical Register, some state medical boards like Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi have started taking re-registration of doctors rather seriously.

MCI governing body member Dr Sita Naik said, "we have been discussing ways of making re-registration of doctors mandatory. Now, it is not an updated system and we have no way to know if somebody already registered with MCI still exists. Once we know actual figures, it will also help us with planning programmes. It will soon be made mandatory for doctors to register every five years."

An MCI's note on "curricular reform in undergraduate medical education" available with TOI says the current doctor-population ratio in India is 1:1700 when compared to a world average of 1.5:1000. The committee came to a consensus that targeted doctor population ratio should be 1:1000 by 2031. There are 330 medical colleges with an intake of approximately 35,000. And with the current intake of doctors, their shortfall is estimated at 9.54 lakhs by 2031.

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