India has one doctor for every 1,457 citizens: Govt

New Delhi: In India, there is one doctor for every 1,457 people as per the country’s current population estimate of 1.35 billion, which is lower than the World Health Organisation norm of 1:1000, the government has informed Parliament.

A little over 11.57 lakh allopathic doctors are registered with the state medical councils and the Medical Council of India as on January 31, and assuming 80 per cent availability, it is estimated that around 9.26 lakh doctors may be actually available for active service, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said in reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on July 2.

Besides, there are 7.88 lakh Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy (AUH) doctors in the country, he added.

“Assuming 80 pc availability, it is estimated that around 6.30 lakh Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy (AUH) doctors may be actually available for service and considered together with allopathic doctors, it gives a doctor population ratio of 1:868,” he said.

As per Indian Nursing Council (INC) records, there are around 30.4 lakh nursing personnel registered in the country as on December 31, 2018, Choubey said in his reply.

Assuming 60 per cent availability in the case of registered nurses and registered midwives and 80 per cent availability in the case of auxiliary nurse midwives or lady health visitors, it is estimated that around 20 lakh nursing personnel are available for active services, which gives a nurse-population ratio of about 1:675 against WHO norms 3:1000 (population taken as 135 crores), he said.

He was replying to a question on shortage of doctors and nurses in the country.

Further, there are 8,500 nursing institutes in the country from where 3.2 lakh nursing personnel annually pass out.

The minister elaborated on the steps taken by the government to increase the number of doctors, which include increasing undergraduate seats, enhancement of maximum intake capacity at MBBS level from 150 to 250 and relaxation in the norms of setting up of medical college in terms of requirement for land, faculty, staff, bed/bed strength and other infrastructure.

The existing state government and central government medical colleges were upgraded by increasing the MBBS seats and new medical colleges attached with district/referral hospitals were set up preferably in under-served districts of the country, he said.

The government has also increased postgraduate seats. The ratio of teachers to students has been revised from 1:1 to 1:2 for all MD/MS disciplines and from 1:1 to 1:3 in subjects of Anesthesiology, Forensic Medicine, Radiotherapy, Medical Oncology, Surgical Oncology and Psychiatry in all medical colleges across the country, Choubey said.

Further, teacher-student ratio in public funded government medical colleges for professor has been increased from 1:2 to 1:3 in all clinical subjects, he said.