Less than 50% availability in 10 type of specialist doctors in Uttarakhand

Not a single eye surgeon in Champawat against three approved positions while Dehradun has 11 in place against six approved posts

As a part of an ongoing study on the state of specialist doctors in Uttarakhand, SDC released the third and final part of the report, “State of Specialist Doctors in Uttarakhand 2021” . The study highlighted the availability of 15 types of specialist doctors across 13 districts of Uttarakhand based on RTI data obtained from the Dept. of Medical, Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of Uttarakhand.

Forensic, skin and psychologist doctors remain the least available in the state. There is only 1 forensic expert in the state out of the approved posts of 25 doctors, 4 skin specialists out of 32 and 4 psychiatrists out of 28. Out of 1147 approved posts for specialist doctors in the state, only 493 specialist doctors are available in Uttarakhand. 654 specialist doctor positions are yet to be filled as on 30th April, 2021 based on the RTI reply.

The study shows a great imbalance between the distribution of specialist doctors amongst the districts. For example, there are no eye surgeons in the hill district of Champawat as against three approved positions whereas 11 eye surgeons are working in Dehradun as against the six approved positions.

“This is one of the major findings as per our study. We need to relook at the IPHS framework on distribution of medical workforce in the state. The study has clearly highlighted that hill districts are worst affected in terms of availability of specialist doctors compared to plain districts. We need to work out a strategy on evenly distributing the workforce of specialist doctors. This will ensure proper access to the health facilities”, said Anoop Nautiyal, Founder, SDC Foundation.

Hill districts worst affected

Pauri with five out of 22, Almora four out of 18, Pithoragarh two out of 8, Chamoli one out of 8 and Tehri with one out of 14 have the least number of child specialists. Similarly, only one gynecologist is available in Bageshwar out of five, four out of 22 in Pauri, two out of 15 in Tehri and one out of nine in Chamoli. Chamoli and Champawat have no public health experts whereas Pauri has only one public health expert as against the approved 14 posts.

“Shortage of specialist doctors along with lack of basic health infrastructure has become a major issue for the hill districts of the state. It is time for political leadership and bureaucrats to address this issue and work on recognizing the Right to Health. People living in hills should have equitable access to public health services”, said Rishabh Shrivastava, Lead – Research and Communications, SDC Foundation.

As per the study, only one forensic expert out of 25 approved posts is working in Dehradun with the other 12 districts having no forensic expert. Only four skin experts are working in Uttarakhand out of the approved posts of 32.

“While the government has rightly placed a lot of focus on strengthening infrastructure in the wake of Covid 19; a similar sense of urgency has been lacking when it comes to appointment of specialist doctors. There is a need to critically examine why Uttarakhand has failed to recruit specialist doctors, draw lessons out of this and make renewed efforts at strengthening the specialist doctor availability in the state”, said Vidush Pandey, Associate – Research and Advocacy, SDC Foundation.

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