The past week provided snapshots of the multiple failures of India’s public health system. Television channels showed us a ward boy (who reportedly doubled up as a janitor) undertaking a surgical procedure in a government hospital in Uttar Pradesh.
Barely had that image registered, there were similar reports from other places — a cleaner without surgical gloves assisting in an operation in another UP government hospital; a generator operator treating patients in Bihar and a janitor caught administering sutures to a patient at West Bengal’s largest and eastern India’s premier medical research institute.
Everyone knows that India’s healthcare system is in shambles and this is partly due to the desperate shortage of human resources. A recent report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry pointed out that in the next 10 years, the number of doctors needs to be doubled from its current figure of 0.75 million; nurses need to be tripled from 3.7 million and paramedics and technician assistants need to be quadrupled from 2.75 million.
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