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Shortage of doctors plagues State’s healthcare system

GUWAHATI: At a time when Dispur is upgrading physical infrastructures and facilities of the dispensaries and district hospitals to take more load of patients, acute shortage of doctors is still plaguing the State’s healthcare system.

Nearly 700 doctors annually graduate from the Gauhati Medical College, Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh, Silchar Medical College, Jorhat Medical College, Tezpur Medical College and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Hospital, Barpeta every year, which is grossly inadequate. Out of the total doctors produced annually in the State 20 per cent of them do not serve the government hospital creating a huge gap between demand and shortage of medicos.

The State now has only three doctors against 10,000 patients, which goes against the World Health Organization’s stipulation of a minimum ratio of 1:1000. The crisis may further deepen with large number of fresh medical graduates showing reluctance to join the government hospitals. A large number of the posts in the healthcare sector are currently lying vacant and whenever the State Government publishes advertisements to fill up such vacant posts, the number of applicants is far less than the number of posts.

Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (who also holds the finance portfolio) while the tabling the State’s budget for 2017-18 in the Assembly admitted the problem of shortage of practitioners and asserted that the State is targeting to produce 1200 doctors annually by setting up new medical colleges. The Diphu Medical College is likely to be functional by 2019. Preliminary works for construction of medical colleges in Nagaon, Dhubri and Lakhimpur have already been started. The State Government is taking steps to set up medical colleges in Kokrajhar, Nalbari, Tinsukia and Karimganj.

Minister of State for Health Pjush Hazarika while admitting the crisis said the State is targeting to produce 2000 doctors annually in the next seven years. He said even though there is a shortage of doctors in the State, not a single government health centre is running without doctors.

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