Medical workforce

The density of medical workforce in India: Miles to go

Print edition : September 27, 2019
India has much ground to cover in achieving the desired density of medical workforce such as doctors, dentists, nursing personnel and pharmacists.

THE density of doctors, dentists, nursing personnel and other components of the medical workforce, defined as the number per 10,000 population, has been steadily increasing in recent years, although the country’s ranking in these areas is far below developed nations and some developing populous nations too, according to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

India’s density of doctors rose from 6.997 in 2012 to 7.776 in 2017, WHO statistics reveal. The global leader is Cuba, which has a doctor density of 81.9. In 2016 too, it was number one, followed by Sweden with 53.996 and Austria with 51.441. According to the organisation, over 30 per cent of WHO member states have less than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 population.

Dentist density in India has made significant gains in the past decade, rising from 0.861 in 2009 to 1.876 in 2017. The actual number of dentists more than doubled from 1,04,603 in 2009 to 2,51,207 in 2017. The WHO said in a report that over 68 per cent of its member states had fewer than five dentists per 10,000 population.

The density and number of nursing/midwifery personnel in the country posted tremendous growth, rising from 15,72,363 in 2007 for a density of 13.329 to 28,21,815 in 2017 for a density of 21.071. According to the WHO, over 60 per cent of its member states have fewer than 40 nursing/midwifery personnel per 10,000 population.

The number of pharmacists in the country also recorded healthy gains, rising from 5,78,179 in 2006 to 9,08,523 in 2017. However, the density of pharmacists only grew from 4.976 in 2006 to 6.784 in 2017.