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Huge disparity in availability of healthcare workforce across States

As India gears up to face the possible third wave of Covid-19, a total of 1,04,09,651 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, and lab technicians, are registered on the Co-WIN portal as of December 14, 2021. However, there is a huge disparity in the availability of healthcare workers across the States.

Maharashtra has the highest number of healthcare workers (13,17,594) which is about 13 per cent of the total healthcare workers available in the country, while Uttar Pradesh has 9 per cent of the total healthcare workers. As per the 2011 Census, Uttar Pradesh (19,98,12,341) is the most populous State followed by Maharashtra with a population of 11,23,74,333. Bihar, which is the third most populous State (10,40,99,452), has registered 5,29,808 healthcare workers, that is 5 per cent of total healthcare workers, on the portal. West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh with population of 9,12,76,115 and 8,45,80,777 respectively, have 6 per cent 5 per cent of healthcare workers. Karnataka and Gujarat have fewer populations than Bihar, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh but have more healthcare workers.

Availability of doctors
Of the allopathic doctors in India, out of a total of 12,68,172 doctors about 15 per cent (1,88,540) are in Maharashtra followed by Tamil Nadu 12 per cent (1,48,216) and Karnataka 10 per cent (1,31,903). Bihar has 45,795 doctors.

As per information available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the doctor-population ratio is 1:834 assuming 80 per cent availability of registered allopathic doctors and 5.65 lakh AYUSH doctors.

Shortage of health staff
Answering a question in the Rajya Sabha, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare last month said public health and hospitals are a State subject and the primary responsibility for strengthening healthcare systems, including beds, ICUs and engagement of health workers, etc, lies with the respective State/UT governments. However, the Ministry provides financial and technical support to States/UTs to strengthen their healthcare systems, including the establishment of public sector healthcare facilities as per population norms.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the Centre must provide the pending amount under National Health Mission and other Central schemes so that States can enhance health infrastructure ahead of the possible third Covid-19 wave.

Budget provisions
Out of the total Budget provisions of ₹34,83,235.63 crore for 2021-22, ₹2,23,846 crore has been provisioned for expenditure on the ‘Health and Wellness Sector’. This comes to about 6.43 per cent of the total Budget provision as per government data.

Against total Budget estimates of ₹76,902 crore for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Department of Health and Family Welfare and Department of Health Research) and Ministry of Ayush, ₹13,375.14 crore has been set to be spent on health infrastructure during 2021-22. This comes to 17.39 per cent of total Budget estimates for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Ayush. The Hindu BusinessLine

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