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India ranks 67th among developing countries in doctor-population ratios

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Although India remained a major supplier of doctors and nurses to the developed countries over the years, the domestic scenario looked bleak with the country ranking 67th among the developing nations in the case of doctor-population ratio.

According to the official statistics available with the health ministry, the total number of registered allopathic doctors in the country is 5.5 lakh. The doctor-population ratio works out to 1:2000 approximately. There are around 3.72 lakh nurses in the country and the nurses-population ratio comes to 1:2950.

As per the latest data, India stands at 67th rank amongst around 133 developing countries with regard to the number of doctors while in respect of number of nurses, India is at 75th rank. The total public expenditure on health (incurred by Central and State Governments) was around 1.1 per cent of GDP during the year 2008-09.

According to the latest Central Bureau of Health Intelligence's survey, the number of beds in the country is 540330 in 11614 Government hospitals. However, as per the World Health Statistics 2009, there is no global norm for the density of hospital beds in relation to total population. In the European region, there are 63 hospital beds per 10,000 people, compared with 10 per 10,000 in the African Region, sources said.

The government has taken a number of measures to facilitate setting up more medical colleges and nursing institutions, improve the doctor/nurse- population ratio in general and also correct the urban bias in the availability of doctors/nurses, sources claimed. A sum of Rs 1350 crore has been earmarked for providing financial assistance for strengthening and upgradation of State Government medical colleges while the measures to set up six AIIMS like institutions are in progress.

The government has also liberalised Medical Council of India's norms/regulations related to land, bed strength, etc. to enable opening up of new medical colleges. The ratio of post graduate medical teacher to the student has been relaxed from 1:1 to 1:2 which will result in availability of more medical specialists. It has been proposed in the scheme of development of nursing services for upgradation of existing schools of nursing into colleges of nursing, sources said.

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