Although there is no dearth of funds for providing healthcare services to the underprivileged in the State, lack of human resources, particularly shortage of doctors, is a major challenge, said E.V. Ramana Reddy, State Health and Family Welfare Secretary.

Speaking at the inauguration of a conference on ‘Innovative and sustainable healthcare management: strategies for growth’, organised by the All-India Management Association (AIMA) in the city on Tuesday, Mr. Reddy said although the government was doing all it could to attract doctors to government service, it was in vain.

‘No specialists?’

“Of the 5,500 doctors in the Health Department, 2,500 are General Duty Medical Officers (those who have done only MBBS). Although there are 186 vacancies in this category, it is not a problem as the jurisdictional deputy commissioners have been asked to recruit locally. We have appointed nearly 5,000 paramedics in the last two years and 1,000 more will be recruited shortly.

But, we have not been able to fill the 900 vacancies of specialists although we have brought in some relaxations in the recruitment norms,” he said.

Expressing helplessness, Mr. Reddy said: “While we called for applications to fill posts of 600 specialists, only 252 applied. Of these, only 137 came for counselling and 75 joined. Of these eight doctors left after seeing the rural location they were posted to and finally only 67 doctors joined.”

He said this was in sharp contrast to the private sector where more than 6,000 would apply for 600 posts.

Holistic approach

Asserting the need to have a holistic approach to make healthcare management sustainable, the Principal Secretary said: “Healthcare in itself is very complex and to make it sustainable for 1.2 billion Indians is a huge challenge. We are fighting with the diseases of both developed countries — lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension — and underdeveloped countries like malnutrition, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases. We need to have convergence with the departments managing sanitation, nutrition and drinking water.”

The conference brought together nearly 180 participants who deliberated on the challenges faced by the healthcare sector in the country and the urgent need to overcome them.

Delivering the theme address, Preetha Reddy, conference chairperson and Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd., said the idea was to ignite the minds of the healthcare providers to go beyond their traditional boundaries and the thought process in healthcare delivery.

“The challenges are large and the danger of not tackling the menace of the disease burden in the country innovatively will have far reaching and disastrous consequences,’’ she said.

K. Jairaj, former State additional chief secretary, and past president of AIMA; Rekha Sethi, Director-General of AIMA; Kewal Handa, Managing Director of Pfizer India; Dilip Jose, Zonal Director of Fortis Healthcare Ltd.; Rajen Padukone, CEO and MD of Manipal Health Enterprises; Shreeraj Deshpande, Head-Health Insurance Future Generali India Insurance Company Ltd.; and a few others also spoke.

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