More than Half Allopathic Practitioners are Quacks
- 14 Aug 2019
- 3 min read
According to Union Health Ministry’s data, 57.3% of personnel currently practising allopathic medicine do not have a medical qualification.
Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 prohibits a person other than a medical practitioner enrolled on a State Medical Register to practice medicine in the State. Any person acting in contravention is punishable with imprisonment and fine, and since health is a State subject, the primary responsibility to deal with such cases lies with the respective State governments.
- This puts at risk rural patients who suffer because of an urban to rural doctor density ratio of 3.8:1, and India’s poor doctor-population ratio of 1:1456 as compared with the World Health Organisation standards of 1:1000.
- According to government records, a total of 11,46,044 allopathic doctors were registered with the State Medical Councils/ Medical Council of India as on December 31, 2018.
- Besides, there are also 7.63 lakh Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy (AUH) doctors in the country.
- Assuming 80% availability, it is estimated that around 6.1 lakh AUH doctors may be actually available for service, and considered together with allopathic doctors, we have a doctor-population ratio of 1:884, which is still low.
- The Health Ministry is now planning to bring in mid-level healthcare providers to relieve overburdened specialists.
- Wide gaps in comprehensive primary healthcare services for many rural areas need to be filled through competent mid-level healthcare providers who are adequately trained, technologically enabled and legally empowered.
- India should learn from the countries such as Thailand, United Kingdom, China and even a city like New York which have permitted community health workers/ nurse practitioners into mainstream health services, with improved health outcomes.
- Even states like Chhattisgarh and Assam have experimented with community health workers, and that according to independent evaluations carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health, have performed very well.
Mid-level Healthcare Providers
- They are health workers with 2-3 years of post-secondary school healthcare training who undertake tasks usually carried out by doctors and nurses, such as clinical or diagnostic functions.
- They are increasingly being used to render services autonomously, particularly in rural and remote areas to make up for the gaps in health workers with higher qualifications.
- Despite their growing role, they are seldom properly integrated into the health system and are not adequately planned for nor managed.