Around 54% of health professionals including doctors, nurses, midwives and other paramedics in India do not have required qualifications, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The study says that 20% of the adequately qualified doctors are not in the current workforce.
The study points out at a significant disparity between the number of registered health professionals and those who are actually practicing.The findings reveal that the health workforce number which is around 3.8 million under the National Sample Survey (NSS), is about 1.2 million less than the total number of health professionals registered with different councils and associations.
Of the currently working health professionals, around 25% do not have the required qualifications as laid down by professional councils, the study says.
The density of doctors and nurses and midwives per 10,000 population is 20.6 according to the NSS and 26.7 based on the registry data, reflecting a widening gap between demand and supply of health resources.
The findings show more than 58% of all health workers are male. The proportion of males is higher in allopathic, AYUSH and dental categories, and lower in the nurse and midwife category. Nearly about 63% of allopathic and 88% of AYUSH doctors reported themselves as self-employed.
More than 80% of doctors and 70% of nurses and midwives are employed in the private sector.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Indian Institute of Public Health and the Public Health Foundation of India. It was designed based on a nationally representative cross-section household survey and review of published documents by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence.
“Distribution and qualification of health professionals are serious problems in India when compared with the overall size of the health workers. Policy should focus on enhancing the quality of health workers and mainstreaming professionally qualified persons into the health workforce,” the authors of the study concluded.