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DATA STORY: India ailing from an 81% shortfall of specialists at community health centres

India's community health centres (CHCs) has 81 percent shortfall of specialized medical care of surgeons, physicians and paediatricians across the country as compared to the required specialist manpower.

August 13, 2019 / 04:48 PM IST

India's community health centres (CHCs) have an 81 percent shortfall of specialised medical care as compared to the required specialist manpower.

The Rural Health Statistics 2016 report states that as compared to the requirement for existing 5,510 CHCs, there is a shortfall of 84 percent of surgeons, 76.7 percent of obstetricians and gynaecologists, 83.2 percent of physicians and 80.1 percent of paediatricians.

Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Despite an increase in specialist doctors at CHCs to 4,192 in 2016 from 3,550 in 2005, the shortfall of specialists is significantly high in most of the states. Tamil Nadu has 95 percent shortage of specialists, followed by West Bengal with 91 percent, Uttar Pradesh at 84 percent and Rajasthan at 78.2 percent shortfall.

As per the manpower recommendation of the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS), each CHC requires 42 manpower including nurses, doctors and surgeons. In cases of an increase in patient load, the number of General Duty Doctors is advised to be increased.


There is 44.3 percent shortfall of laboratory technicians who collect, examine and test body fluids, tissue cells and other substances, as well as, 20.5 percent shortage of nursing staffs at CHCs and primary health centres (PHCs).

The shortfall of health professionals in public health facilities situated in rural areas is higher despite providing hard area allowance to healthcare professionals for serving in rural and remote areas.

The Medical Council of India had amended the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000 to provide benefits for doctors who serve in the rural areas, however, its impact has been minimal.

According to the Lok Sabha reply presented by the former Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Faggan Singh Kulaste, a higher shortfall in rural areas are due to the "overall shortage of healthcare professionals in the country, feeling of professional isolation among healthcare professionals, and unwillingness on their part to work in rural areas".

The healthcare scenario improves at the lower level — primary health centres (PHCs) — of the healthcare system as the shortfall of doctors in PHCs decreases drastically.

For doctors at PHC, there is a shortfall of 12.8% of the total requirement. This is again mainly due to significant shortfall of doctors at PHCs in the States of Uttar Pradesh (1288), Chhattisgarh (446), Odisha (346), Madhya Pradesh (225), Karnataka (220), Gujarat (209), West Bengal (188), Himachal Pradesh (94) and Assam (82).

Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Over the past decade, the percentage of PHCs functioning in Government buildings has increased significantly to 91.5 percent in 2016 from 78 percent in 2005.

As on 31st March 2016, 8.1 percent of the PHCs were without a doctor, 38 percent were without a Lab Technician and 18.7 percent were without a pharmacist depicting a lower shortage of medical professionals at primary healthcare centres.
first published: Nov 17, 2017 03:18 pm
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