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80% shortfall of specialists in rural India

CHCs see dearth of surgeons, gynaecologists, physicians & paediatricians

80% shortfall of specialists in rural India

Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, January 12

Indian villages continue to reel under an acute shortage of specialists with the latest round of rural health statistics revealing a whopping 79.5 per cent shortfall.

Government data shows that while the overall shortage of specialists in community health centres (CHCs) of rural areas is 80 pc, shortage of specific specialities is even higher.

Against the requirement for the existing infrastructure, there is a shortfall of 83.2 per cent surgeons, 74.2 per cent obstetricians and gynaecologists, 79.1 per cent physicians and 81.6 per cent paediatricians. Overall, there is a shortage of 79.5 per cent specialists at the CHCs as compared to the requirement. Simply put, it means that against 10 specialists needed to man CHCs in villages, only two are available.

6,064 Community Health Centres in country

5,480 in rural areas, 584 in urban areas

1 CHC caters to 1.2 lakh people in plain areas, 80,000 in hilly and difficult areas.

The data is worrisome considering that the CHCs are mandated under the National Health Mission to provide specialised medical care of surgeons, obstetricians, gynaecologists, physicians and paediatricians to village population. The current position of specialists at the CHCs reveals that as on March 31, 2022, of the sanctioned posts, 71.9 per cent surgeons, 63 per cent obstetricians and gynaecologists, 67.5 per cent physicians and 69.7 per cent pediatricians are vacant. Overall 67.8 pc of the sanctioned posts of specialists at the CHCs are vacant. Importantly, there has been no change in the specialist shortfall between 2021 and 2022 with the shortage percentage being almost the same – 79.9 pc in 2021 and 79.5 pc in 2022.

The requirement of specialists in CHCs has increased by 63.8 pc between 2005, when the NMH was launched, till now, whereas there has been an increase of only 26.3 pc in the actual number of in-position specialists. As of today, India has 1,57,935 sub-centres in villages, 24,935 primary health centres and 5,480 CHCs.

One PHC caters to 30,000 people in plains and 20,000 in difficult areas while one sub-centre caters to 5,000 and 3,000 people, respectively.

The health manpower shortage continues at the level of village sub-centres, with shortfall in the posts of female health workers and ANMs (auxiliary nurse midwife) being 3.5 pc and that of male health workers being as high as 66.6 pc.

The overall shortfall of manpower at the national level is mainly due to the low staff situation in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Odisha, and Tripura.

4 specialists needed at each CHC

Each CHC requires to be manned by 4 medical specialists — surgeon, physician, obstetrician/gynaecologist, paediatrician — along with paramedical staff

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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