Tenable Solution

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Jul 2018 11:00:31

The number of doctors per thousand population in India is one of the lowest in the world, which directly affects the quality of healthcare. This can be addressed by increasing the number of medical colleges and medical seats.


But such a move also needs an ample number of quality teachers and adequate infrastructure to complement the growth. Increasing the number of seats also enhances the possibility of lower quality students entering the system due to the easy availability of seats. In fact, this has already started happening.


VICE PRESIDENT M Venkaiah Naidu recently batted for “opening up” to the private sector in medical education but stressed the need for regulation to ensure transparency, accountability and quality.


He said while the system was expanding and the Government, as well as the private sector, was focusing on increasing the number of medical colleges, “the essential question we need to ask ourselves is about the quality of medical education.” “I feel the time has come that we should open up. We have already opened up. We have to open up further to the private sector,” he said in his address at the convocation of Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University. Striking a note of caution to authorities, he, however, said, “regulation should not become strangulation.”


“The regulation is to benefit, to monitor, to have transparency, accountability in the medical institutions. Namesake or institutions that are there on paper should not be encouraged,” he said.


The Vice-President expressed happiness over the Tamil Nadu Assembly recently approving the setting up of two more private universities in the State, saying, “that is the need of the hour”. Asking doctors to focus more on rural areas, he reiterated his earlier suggestion that a doctor should be mandated to serve three years in villages before the first promotion.


“Otherwise, rural area people feel neglected…serving the poor, the needy, is serving God. Keeping that in mind, you should focus on rural people,” he said. Medical education and medical services in India need several nips and tucks to be more people oriented and more deeply penetrative for better universal health coverage.


This has been a long popular demand and societal need because the number of doctors per thousand population in India is one of the lowest in the world, which directly affects the quality of healthcare. This can be addressed by increasing the number of medical colleges and medical seats. But such a move also needs an ample number of quality teachers and adequate infrastructure to complement the growth. Increasing the number of seats also enhances the possibility of lower quality students entering the system due to the easy availability of seats. In fact, this has already started happening.


With mushrooming of medical colleges, many of which run without the basic mandated requirements, non-serious moneyed youth are getting an easy access to med education which is diluting the quality of doctors we are getting in society. Quality control then becomes a big issue and there are various mechanisms that would need to be put in place to ensure a high standard across the board. All this nitty-gritty of medical education management cannot be done by the Government alone. The health sector is a vast and complicated field and it needs newer researches, newer innovations and faster infrastructure enhancement. For this the role of the private sector is crucial. As the VP said, private players are not alien entities; they are part of our system because they are our people, partaker of the common benefits and ills of our social coordinates. They too have a liability towards society and they need to cooperate with the Government in sprucing up the system.


The Government healthcare sector has long faced neglect and it needs a big push to get back on track. The Government’s resources are limited and hence it has to look up to the private entrepreneurs to chip in and help the country grow. The private players need to look beyond sheer profit and take the onus on themselves to help and save people. Rural India still needs immense improvement in the medical facilities and the Government and private firms need earnest determination and involvement to bring more and more people under the cover of affordable healthcare. The private hospitals need to revisit their charges and fees and moderate the same so that more people get benefited from them. The pharma companies need to reduce the prices of their drugs to make them accessible to a larger populace. The Government has already initiated efforts in that direction. The Government hospitals, on the other hand, need to have more accountability and transparency in their work.


The Government can easily monitor their activities and bring the guilty to book swiftly if there is any dereliction. Young doctors also must be required to serve for some time or in the rotation in rural areas. This has long been promulgated and debated but no conclusive direction has been set in this regard yet.


Most young medicos succumb to the lure of money and the goodies of urban life and are reluctant to go to the villages. This widens the rural-urban divide and skews demographics. The facilities in village hospitals too need to be spruced up to make it more conducive for doctors and again, the PPP model can work wonders in this regard. There must be greater engagement and unanimity between the medical fraternity, the Government and the people at large. There is a gap in communication and policy formulations thus are often not in sync with doctors’ demands and people’s needs.


All stakeholders must be taken into confidence and a progressive and innovative policy must be devised to improve the general health scenario. India has huge potential when it comes to talents and possibilities and we must not squander that away.


The medical fraternity today faces multiple pressures and impediments which drive many doctors out of the country, even as they flourish in the US and other western nations. The security and professional atmosphere of doctors needs to be improved if we want a better approach from their side. Here too the resources and expertise of the private players can prove a boon.


There is suspicion in Government working and red tape delays which doesn’t encourage the private groups in showing much interest in Government activities. The Government needs to lessen paperwork and make its working smoother and facilitative to lure better investment and involvement of the right specificities in the business.


There should be focus and clarity in the Government processes and there must be single window clearances for private players who want to associate so that they save precious time and money in doing rounds of offices. There must be a specific point by point enumeration of the role entrepreneurs can play and how the Government can help them in that.


These steps to untangle and simplify the entry of private players in the health sector will certainly see better and healthier interaction between the players and the subsequent much-sought change in medical education and healthcare delivery.