More staff needed to ensure ‘right to health’


There are six lakh practising doctors, but a million more are required: Ministry

Although ‘Right to Health’ has been included as a common promise in the manifestos of all political parties this election, health activists and experts in the field feel that the new government should first meet the paucity of specialists, nurses and improve health infrastructure in rural areas.


According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the country, at present, has six lakh practising doctors. But, a million more are required. While there are 13.71 lakh nurses, two million more are required, as per the Indian Nursing Council’s data. The existing 14.5 lakh hospital beds need to be increased by an additional three million to meet the healthcare requirement of every citizen.

Devi Shetty, founder and chairperson of Narayana Hrudayalaya, said the shortage was high in the field of anaesthesia. “Right to health is wishful thinking, unless the shortage is met, it will not be possible to ensure right to health to every citizen.”

N. Devadasan, director of the Institute of Public Health, said ensuring right to health is essential. “But, even if started now, I do not think we will get anywhere near to it at least in the next 10 to 15 years. Implementing this proposal requires meeting the shortage of specialists, nurses, improving infrastructure and governance structure,” he said.

‘Divergent views’

Explaining that there are divergent views on the ‘right to health’ concept, Dr. Devadasan said: “The right to health needs to be located in the underlying determinants of health, such as access to safe water and sanitation, adequate food and nutrition. Social inequalities — irrespective of gender, caste and class — have a profound impact on the health of the poor.” C.N. Manjunath, director of the State-run Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said although right to health is a fundamental and universal right of all citizens, it would be a workable solution only if basic issues such as safe drinking water, proper sanitation, prevention of environmental pollution, better connectivity and awareness about various health schemes are addressed.

According to Dr. Manjunath, a major problem is poor tertiary care management in semi-urban and rural areas, doctors’ reluctance to work in villages and lack of infrastructure.

“District and taluk hospitals should have well-equipped intensive care units, which can be linked through telemedicine with tertiary care hospitals for consultation, treatment co-ordination and transfer of patients for further treatment. This mechanism will allow optimal initial treatment during the golden hour,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 12:19:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/more-staff-needed-to-ensure-right-to-health/article5912185.ece

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