Shortage of doctors in MP results in deaths of 72,000 newborns over nine years!

Bhopal: Where would you expect to find a doctor? In a hospital, of course.

But, not in Madhya Pradesh, because as many as 277 senior doctors of the state government, are working in

 Consistent efforts have been made by the state government to improve the health of residents. Plans are being chalked out to reduce the infant mortality rate. Doctors have been deputed to other departments out of necessity, but soon they will be transferred to their original duties – Rustam Singh, minister public health and family welfare (MP)

administrative capacity in different departments of the state government. And, this at a time, when the state is grappling with acute shortage of doctors.

As a direct result of the shortage of doctors, 72,000 newborns died between 2009 and 2017 in Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) of government hospitals in the state. As per government data, 125 to 140 of per thousand newborns in SNCUs died across the state between the said period.

And, things do not end there. Almost 50 government doctors are absent from their duty for long duration. As of March 2017, the sanctioned posts of government doctors stood at 8,156, of which 4,367 are filled. This means that 47 per cent of the sanctioned posts are vacant. These include posts in district and sub-district hospitals and primary and community health centres.

The situation is even grimmer vis-a-vis specialists. Of the total 3,273 sanctioned post of specialist doctors (surgeons, pediatricians, obstetricians), only 1,126 are filled, which means that around 66 per cent of these posts are yet to be filled.

Replying to a question of Congress legislator Jitu Patwari in the Assembly this year, the public health and family welfare department conceded, “The progress in reducing the infant mortality rate in the state is not satisfactory.”

The high rate of death of newborns coupled with serious crunch of doctors puts a big question mark on the state government’s claims of having improved the health infrastructure. Despite this, the government is set to open seven new medical colleges in the state. From where it will get doctors to man these colleges is anybody’s guess.

The state government, in 2017, had applied to Union health ministry seeking permission for giving admissions for 800 new seats in MBBS course in seven new government medical colleges for the academic session 2018-19. These colleges are to be opened in Ratlam, Vidisha, Chhindwara, Shivpuri, Datia, Khandwa and Shahdol.

Experts say to run these colleges the government requires at least 1,200 doctors. As per the rules of Medical Council of India, only doctors with a minimum experience of four years can teach.