What is causing inequality in India’s healthcare system?

Such figures which appear at odds with the notion of a so-called ‘healthcare gap’ between demand and supply. Certainly, the supply (and accessibility) of quality, professional healthcare has never been higher; trends driven and accompanied by rising incomes and expectations regarding quality of life, in equal measure.

India is also training healthcare professionals in unprecedented numbers to meet these demands. The country’s 370 medical colleges produce nearly 50,000 freshly qualified medical doctors every year. Compare this with the U.S., for instance, which produces around 18,000 doctors annually, reports say. When it comes to nurses, India has the capacity to train nearly 80,000 diploma nurses, over 40,000 graduate nurses, and nearly 2,000 postgraduate nurses per year, it was reported in 2010.

Despite these record-breaking numbers, India’s doctor to population ratio remains at 1:1,445, significantly below the World Health Organization’s recommended norm of 1:1,000. Overall, looking at all skilled healthcare personnel, the ratio in India stood at around 30 professionals per 10,000 residents in 2016, compared to an average of over 50 globally, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

While efforts to increase the number of medical colleges in India are a positive response, they will be insufficient if qualified health professionals end up practising elsewhere.

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