Monday November 12, 2018

India short of 500,000 Doctors, the Doctor-Patient ratio of 1:1,700 is worse than Vietnam

India is short of nearly 500,000 doctors, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) norm of 1:1,000 population, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of Government data.

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New Delhi, September 1, 2016: Needless to say that, Health-Management failure is prone in India. The depth of this fact can be measured only if we go through with these examples.

In Odisha, a man slung his wife’s body over his shoulder and carried it 10 km after being denied an ambulance on August 24, 2016.

In Kanpur, a man’s sick son died on his shoulder after being denied admission to a hospital on August 29, 2016.

Such cases become visible when they get social media and television attention, but millions cannot access India’s overburdened hospitals and inadequate medical facilities, a crisis illustrated by the fact that India is short of nearly 500,000 doctors, based on the World Health Organization(WHO) norm of 1:1,000 population, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of government data.

With more than 740,000 active doctors at the end of 2014 — a claimed doctor-patient population ratio of 1:1,674, worse than Vietnam, Algeria and Pakistan — the doctor shortage was one of the health-management failures cited by the report of a parliamentary committee on health and family welfare, which presented its findings on March 8, 2016.

Illegal capitation fees in private medical colleges, a health-services inequality between urban and rural India and a disconnect between the public-health and medical-education systems were among the issues the committee investigated while probing the Medical Council of India, the 82-year-old organisation responsible for medical-education standards.

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Up to 55 percent of India’s 55,000 doctors graduate every year from private colleges, many of which charge illegal donations, or “capitation fees”; in Tamil Nadu, it now costs a medical student from such a college Rs 2 crore to get an MBBS degree, the Times Of India reported on August 26, 2016.

The imbalances begin with access to medical education.

States with nearly half the population have only a fifth of MBBS seats

“Six states, which represent 31 percent of India’s population, have 58 per cent MBBS seats; on the other hand, eight states, which comprise 46 percent of India’s population, have only 21 per cent MBBS seats,” said an unnamed expert who deposed before the parliamentary committee.

These medical-education imbalances reflect larger public-healthcare issues. In general, poverty is correlated with the lack of healthcare. For instance, among states with the highest proportion of undernourished children, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have the worst infrastructure for institutional deliveries.

India’s poorer states have health indicators that are worse than many nations poorer than them, and India’s healthcare spending is the lowest among BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations, as are its health indicators.

Every year, 55,000 doctors complete their MBBS and 25,000 post-graduation nationwide, said another unnamed expert. At this rate of growth, he told the committee, India should have a doctor (allopathic) for every 1,250 people for a population of 1.3 billion by 2020, and one for every 1,075 by 2022 (population: 1.36 billion).

“However, the committee has been informed? that doctors cannot be produced overnight, and if we add 100 medical colleges every year for the next five years, only by the year 2029 will the country have an adequate number of doctors,” the second expert said.

The shortage of doctors, the report said, is despite the increase in medical colleges, from 23 in 1947 to 398 at the end of 2014. India, the report noted, has more medical colleges than any country, and 49,930 admissions were available in 2014.

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“An expert who appeared before the committee submitted that India was very very short of doctors and to meet this shortfall, India needs to have not four hundred, but one thousand medical colleges,” the report said.

The central government has approved 22 medical colleges with 1,765 seats in the last two years, according to an e-book published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The NITI Aayog, the government’s think-tank, has prepared the draft National Education Commission Bill, 2016, to reassess India’s healthcare and medical-education infrastructure.

While 11 new All IndiaInstitutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been added with 1,100 seats, the government has proposed an additional 4,700 MBBS seats.

As many as 5,540 MBBS seats and 1,004 PG seats have been added in the last two academic sessions, the e-book said.

Medical-education shortages manifest themselves in under-staffed public-health services nationwide: There is an 83 percent shortage of specialist medical professionals in community health centres (CHCs), as IndiaSpend reported in September 2015.

Public-health centres across India’s rural areas — 25,308 in 29 states and seven union territories — are short of more than 3,000 doctors, the scarcity rising 200 per cent (or tripling) over 10 years, IndiaSpend reported in February 2016.

The committee was, thus, sceptical of the government’s claims of the doctor-population ratio.

“Given the fact that the Indian Medical Register is not a live database and contains names of doctors who may have passed away or retired from active practice, by now, as well as those with a permanent address outside India and that there is no mechanism in place for filtering out such cases, the Committee is highly sceptical of the ministry’s claim of having one doctor per 1,674 population,” the parliamentary report said. “In view of the above, the Committee feels that the total universe of doctors in India is much smaller than the official figure, and we may have one doctor per 2,000 population, if not more.” (IANS)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    There are more than enough doctors graduating from medical schools in the country but they seem to run to other countries to earn cash, rather than saving and treating patients in their own country.

    • steve webster

      That is because in Canada they can often go back to school one year plus take up junior position under a doctor here in a rural area for 2 more years . After the first year they are often sending $3,000 to $4,000 per month back to their family in India to cover debt to cover education . After being in Canada 3 years they can make many times what they would in India, It very frustrating to be in country short of ambulances and supplies for the bottom third.

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    There are more than enough doctors graduating from medical schools in the country but they seem to run to other countries to earn cash, rather than saving and treating patients in their own country.

    • steve webster

      That is because in Canada they can often go back to school one year plus take up junior position under a doctor here in a rural area for 2 more years . After the first year they are often sending $3,000 to $4,000 per month back to their family in India to cover debt to cover education . After being in Canada 3 years they can make many times what they would in India, It very frustrating to be in country short of ambulances and supplies for the bottom third.

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Twitter Takes Multiple Steps To Curb Misinformation Before Elections in India

More than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation

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Twitter, tweets, India
The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

Twitter is taking “multi-variable” steps, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, to curb the spread of misleading information on its platform ahead of 2019 general election in India, Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said here on Monday.

Addressing a Town Hall-style meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D), Dorsey said fake news is a way too big category.

“The real problem is not misinformation per se as jokes can also be categorised as misinfomation. But misinformation that is spread with the intent to mislead people is a real problem,” stressed the Twitter CEO who is in India on a week-long maiden visit.

Dorsey, who got a rousing reception at IIT-D with the students wildly cheering the young entrepreneur, likened solving the problem of misleading information to that of addressing a security issue, or building a lock.

Twitter, India
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

“No one can build a perfect lock, but we need to stay ahead of our attackers. AI could probably help,” Dorsey told the audience.

Earlier in the day, the Twitter CEO met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and discussed various steps the social network was taking to curb the spread of fake news and boost healthy conversation on its platform.

Dorsey also met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama over the weekend. He was also expected to meet Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the wake of the growing criticism over Twitter’s role in the spread of misinformation and fake news as India faces Assembly polls in five states in November-December ahead of next year’s general elections.

Twitter, India
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Twitter, along with other social media platforms, including Facebook, came under intense scrutiny of policymakers in the US for their failure to stop the spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts on their platforms during the 2016 Presidential election.

The micro-blogging site since then has stepped up its efforts to curb the spread of divisive messages and fake news on its platform.

To further protect the integrity of elections, Twitter recently announced that it would now delete fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviour.

India, elections
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the ‘Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi, India, VOA

As part of the new rules, accounts that deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts that were previously suspended for violating rules may be identified as fake accounts, Twitter said recently.

Also Read: Twitter Giving Its Users More Freedom to Report Fake, Suspicious Accounts

However, according to a Knight Foundation study released in October, more than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation during the 2016 US election are still active. (IANS)