There were only 4.8 practising doctors per 10,000 people in India in 2014, says a study
New Delhi: To achieve a modest doctor-to-population ratio of 1:1,000, India will need 2.07 million more doctors by 2030, according to a study published in the Indian Journal of Public Health, in September this year.
The study titled Aggregate Availability of Doctors in India: 2014-2030, conducted by the economics and business policy faculty at the FORE School of Management, used Medical Council of India’s (MCI) historical data from 1960-2015 on registration stock of doctors obtained from Indian medical registers.
Also, it accessed other data on emigration of doctors from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and destination country sources.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the ministry of health, India has seven doctors per 10,000 people. The research paper found that there were only 4.8 practising doctors per 10,000 people available in India in 2014.
“As per the availability of practising doctors in India for 2014, the latest year for which data are available, there were 600,031 doctors available for practice in India in 2014 to serve its 1,239 million (1.239 billion) population with a doctor-population ratio of just 4.84 per 10,000 people in contrast to the government data,” the study said.
The research has also highlighted that given these findings, and the prospects of the numbers increasing over the next 15-year period, it looks like an impossible task to achieve even a modest doctor-population ratio of 1:1000 by 2030, by when the population is estimated to reach 1.476 billion.
“The current availability of doctors data in India is based on the registration stock of doctors accumulated since the early 20th century. This has not been adjusted to attrition of the strength occurring due to retirement, emigration, etc. Rest of the registered doctors have either retired or emigrated from the country to practice abroad. It is estimated that the country would be able to achieve a ratio of about 6.9 practising doctors per 10,000 people only by 2030,” said Basant Potnuru, associate professor, economics and business policy, FORE School of Management.
Due to non-availability of data, the leakage of doctors for reasons such as those who discontinued medical practice due to change in profession, death or for any other reason during 1979-2014 (35-year period) is assumed to be zero.
“Thus, taking into account only two important causes of attrition of doctors such as retirement and emigration, the strength of practising doctors reduced by 36.5% of the stock and the doctor-population ratio slipped from 7 to 4.8 per 10,000 people,” said Potnuru.
“Similarly, the availability of practising doctors in 2030 will be based on the estimation of the stock and attrition due to retirement and emigration. If the registration stock of doctors continues to increase at the rate it has increased in the last two decades, the availability of practising doctors in 2030 will be 1,018,008, after deductions made for retirement and emigration of doctors,” he said.