India is reeling under an acute shortage of specialist doctors, with a shortfall of nearly 80% of the required specialists at Community Health Centres (CHCs), reveals the Rural Health Statistics report published by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on January 12.
CHCs are 30-bed block-level health facilities which are ideally supposed to provide basic care related to surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics and general medicine.
The report points out that there is a shortfall of specialist doctors, including surgeons (83.2%), obstetricians and gynaecologists (74.2%), physicians (79.1%) and paediatricians (81.6%).
There are 6,064 CHCs across India and the Health Ministry has been unsuccessful in meeting the requirement for specialist doctors in most of these centres. This is despite the fact that, in 2005, the number of specialist doctors in CHCs was 3,550, which has seen a 25% increase to 4,485 in 2022. However, with the number of CHCs growing, the requirement for specialist doctors required to make the centres functional has also increased.
“Requirements of specialist doctors in CHCs has increased by 63.8%, whereas there is only an increase of 26.3% in the actual number of in-position specialists,” the report notes.
The report has noted that funds should be provided for outsourcing and providing support services according to the need of each centre, and also recommends that nursing orderlies be trained in the assistive procedures required for surgery.
Apart from specialist doctors, there is also a shortage of female health workers and auxiliary nursing midwives, with upto 14.4% of these posts lying vacant in primary health centres and sub-centres.