As India continues its Fight against COVID-19, medical personnel are at the front battling the pandemic & providing services to prevent the spread. India is short of the prescribed strength of nurses & doctors.

India has 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population, 43% less than the World Health Organisation norm (3 per 1,000). This includes nurses, midwives, women health visitors and auxiliary nurse midwives. Overall, India has 3.07 million registered nursing personnel, government told the Rajya Sabha on March 3, 2020.

1.2 million allopathic doctors were registered in India as on Sep 30, 2019. Assuming 80% availability, 961,000 may be available for service, giving a doctor-population ratio of 1:1,404 against WHO prescribed ratio of 1:1,000, the government told Lok Sabha on Feb 7.

Shortage of doctors varies in different states. The shortage is due to uneven rural-urban distribution. Public health/hospitals being a state subject, the primary responsibility to ensure availability of doctors in public health facilities lies with state/UT governments

Government & private sector need to increase capacity for intensive care, recruit & train additional staff, identify & equip additional buildings for triage: former health secretary of Kerala, credited with effective handling of Nipah, told us in an interview.

(As compiled by Chaitanya Mallapur)