Healthcare Inequity and Physician Scarcity - Empowering Non-Physician Healthcare

Article published in Economic & Political Weekly

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Authors:
Abhishek Sharma, Elissa Ladd, M K Unnikrishnan

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Publication date: 30 March 2013

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The massive scarcity of physicians in India, mainly in rural areas, prompted the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to propose a three-and-a-half year Bachelor of Rural Health and Care degree designed exclusively to serve rural populations. The fierce opposition by powerful medical lobbies forced the proposal to fade away.

This paper emphasises the importance of “task shifting” and “non-physician prescribing” in the global context and argues that non-physician healthcare providers would not only increase availability and accessibility to rural healthcare, but also provide an empowered second line of authority, adding to the checks and balances to the exploitative prestige-based hierarchy that pervades this knowledge-intensive service.