How grim the shortage of doctors in the country is evident from the fact that the Indian government has stopped issuing ‘no obligation to return to India’ (NORI) certificates since 2011.
How grim the shortage of doctors in the country is evident from the fact that the Indian government has stopped issuing ‘no obligation to return to India’ (NORI) certificates since 2011. A recent casualty, of this policy was Sunil Noothi, who wanted to apply to the US for post-doctoral research. A new study from Praja Foundation for Delhi highlights the acute shortage of healthcare professionals in the national capital. The study shows that the problem goes beyond brain-drain—Delhi’s shortage is not just of doctors but also of paramedical staff, nurses and professors.
The problem is more severe in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)-run dispensaries and hospitals than in those of the Delhi government. While MCD had a 40% shortage of doctors and 45% of paramedics, the comparable numbers were 25% and 31% for Delhi government. Although the study doesn’t go beyond the national capital, it is possible that the situation in Tier II cities and villages would be much worse.
In fact, WHO data highlights that India has just 0.702 doctors for every 1,000 people. If the country could even approach China’s density (1.4 per thousand), it would have to double the number of doctors from the current 9.36 lakh to 20 lakh. Withdrawing NORI cannot be a solution. The government can ask public-education trained doctors leaving the country to refund the subsidy they got for their medical education, at the best.
So, it would be better if the government were to look for practical solutions like increasing the number of seats and providing better remuneration for government doctors. Against competition increasing—as compared to 5.2 lakh in 2014, there were 6.67 lakh students in 2016 competing for admission to 52,000 medical seats—there has not been a proportionate change in the number of seats.