Shortage of doctors persists post-NRHM

Doctors still unwilling to serve in rural areas

sonal

Sonal Matharu | April 20, 2010



Bihar and Jharkhand face a major manpower crunch at the primary health care delivery centres, a bulletin on Rural Health Statistics up to March 2008 reveals. There is a shortfall of 176 and 736 specialists at community health centres (CHCs) in Bihar and Jharkhand respectively, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a written reply to a question raised in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

“Bihar needs 76 doctors and 706 nurse mid-wives or staff nurses in the primary health care centre. Whereas, Jharkhand is short of 1259 staff nurses,” said Azad. Though human resource management is one of the main concerns under the government’s National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), most states suffer from neglected healthcare at the primary and secondary levels.

Despite efforts by the government to encourage doctors to serve in the rural areas, the situation across the country remains dismal. Over the past year, the health ministry has announced benefits for post-graduation entrance examinations for MBBS graduates who are willing to go serve at the primary healthcare centres.

“The doctors are unwilling to serve in the remote areas where there are no facilities. The pharmacists and community health workers take care of the health needs of people living in far-off places,” said Meenakshi Gautham, a rural health researcher. “As on January 2010, 381 specialists and 3000 staff nurses were hired on contractual basis under NRHM in Bihar. And in Jharkhand, only 19 specialists and 407 staff nurses were hired under the same,” the reply said.

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