The recent COVID-19 epidemic has put a lot of strain on the already tottering healthcare system in India. This, along with other challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), need the healthcare systems to be strengthened.
One of the critical building blocks of the health system is human resources. Health workers are critical not just for the functioning of health systems but also for the preparedness of health systems in preventing, detecting and responding to threats posed by diseases and epidemics such as COVID-19.
A 2019 report by US based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) found out that
The workforce crisis has been aggravated by the imbalances within the country.
To plug in this gap, certain proposals like the recent one such as the NITI Aayog’s proposal of allowing private entities to take over district hospitals for converting them into teaching hospitals with at least 150 MBBS seats might look promising in the short term but there are shortcomings with it as well.
Is the Market oriented approach towards medical education suitable to solve the workforce crisis?
In order to meet the significant shortfall of qualified doctors in northern States, scaling up of medical education is warranted.
However, solely relying on the private sector to fill in the critical workforce gap will not only aid to corporatize healthcare but also undermine the established public healthcare system.
Therefore an unfettered market approach or a regulated market with medical colleges that are publicly funded but privately operated, providing competition for traditional government medical colleges, is not the answer to the healthcare workforce crisis.
Question: Healthcare workforce shortage can be fulfilled by maintaining a fine balance between private and public medical education. Comment . (120 words, 8 marks)
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