By Neetu Chandra Sharma And Lipla Negi

24 April 2016

Nearly 70 per cent of India’s doctors and other medical professionals are concentrated in urban areas, a recent parliamentary panel report noted, pointing to a growing healthcare vacuum in villages where more than two-thirds of the population lives.

Mail Today met a number of health experts, who have emerged as rays of hope in the country’s darkest corners.

“These are most gratifying days of my personal and professional life. It’s easier to donate money, but very difficult to donate time,” said Delhi-based dermatologist Dr Deepali Bhardwaj, who travels to the remote tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh for 10 days each year.

Analysts reveal that many doctors who do not leave the country, prefer to stay in the cities and treat patients who can pay, even as people in the backwoods grapple with an acute shortage of well-trained specialists.

“There are urban-rural inequities and there are also geographical inequities,” the report, dissecting the functioning of Medical Council of  India, said.

“With rapid privatisation of medical education and healthcare since the 1980s, around 70 per cent of medical professionals work in the private health sector and around 70 per cent of these are concentrated in urban well-to-do areas.”

The incentives offered to doctors by the government to work in villages have failed to be a draw in a country where a pizza reaches the destination sooner than an ambulance.

There are a few medical experts who are driven by idealism.

“Everybody enters the field of medicine for an idealistic reason – we all want to serve the society. But along the way, we lose that idealism. Small concerns overrule our lives. We lose sight of the larger goal – why we got into medicine,” said leading uro gynecologist Dr Aparna Hegde, who also runs the NGO ARMMAN.

The NGO tries to ensure that no mother or child dies due to lack of medical attention.

While financial stability remains a key worry for healthcare experts in the countryside, 70-year-old Dr Saurindra Mohan Deb said he never felt the urge to practice in urban areas to make more money.

“I know how helpless most of these villagers are when someone from their families falls sick. They don’t have anywhere to go. They are deprived of modern medical facilities as well as expert hands. Thus, I decided to practice in the rural parts only. I never tried to look for a job in urban area,” said Dr Deb, who spent his entire life, working at various impoverished rural pockets of West Bengal’s South 24 Paraganas district.

“Initially I was reluctant to go to Machil. But, when I started working there, I fell in love with my work and the people who were poor and had nowhere to go,” said Dr Firdous Ahmad Bhat, who served in Kashmir’s strife-torn Machil region.

Dr. Dinesh Kapil has shared his experience as a doctor in rural areas,

Courtesy: Mail Online India


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