Physician Shortages in the Indian Public Sector
India is one of the few countries that has been estimated to have a “critical” shortage of health workers and therefore unlikely to be able to provide essential health interventions to its people (WHO 2006). The dire impacts of these shortages are evident from the fact that it has fallen short of meeting its MDG goals on several fronts. As the current discourse on Universal Health Care debates the means of expanding coverage to all citizens, the one aspect universally agreed upon is the persistent challenge that a shortage of health workforce in the public sector poses, and the pressing need to address this gap. This policy brief outlines the core issues at the root of the problem and examines the reasons for the severe shortages in the key element of this workforce, the physicians, in the Indian public sector. It then provides an overview of WHO’s Global Policy Recommendations to address this challenge and looks at the strategies that various Indian states have so far adopted. Finally, it offers a set of practical and goal oriented recommendations aimed at directly and urgently addressing the challenge in the Indian context.