Shekhar Gupta: This country requires a lot more doctors.
Dr. Devi Shetty: We get 18,000 doctors every year. We need more than one lakh doctors every year.
Shekhar Gupta: And we can produce them?
Dr. Devi Shetty: Easily.
Shekhar Gupta: So it is artificial undersupply.
Dr. Devi Shetty: You talk to the highest authorities in healthcare. If you ask them how many doctors are working in the country presently, believe me, nobody knows how many doctors are working. So we need a very different view, of creating the adequate number of training positions and maintain the quality of doctors coming out. Unless we address these two issues, putting money in healthcare will not work.
From this Walk the Talk interview of Dr. Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya, a research hospital specializing in heartcare. When asked to give a take-home message to the aggrieved students and to the government, this is what he said:
My advice to the students is they should ask the government for an opportunity to become specialists and super- specialists by creating additional seats. And my advice to the government is they should create additional seats by opening the education sector for Indian entrepreneurs and overseas universities. So that there is no shortage of teachers and infrastructure.
He went on to say, "You should create surplus of opportunity. So, those who want to get into medicine or any other area, they have an opportunity. If they are not good in the field, don’t give them a degree."
At one point, Shetty described the doctors' lobby as "powerful". This was also the view expressed in this Hindu editorial:
Traditionally, the Indian Medical Association, a national body of doctors, has been opposed to any increase in the number of medical college seats. Although the negative position is couched in terms of opposition to a dilution of standards and privatisation of medical education, the self-serving, protectionist streak is unmistakable. The greater the number of doctors, the more competitive medical practice gets.