It is interesting to note that many Indian doctors end settle abroad, while the world is suffering shortage of health workers. Fifty-seven countries, most of them in Africa and Asia, face a severe health workforce crisis. WHO estimates that at least 2 360 000 health service providers and 1 890 000 management support workers, or a total of 4 250 000 health workers, are needed to fill the gap. Meantime, those countries better positioned to attract the flows of doctors continue to be advance industrial nations, like US and UK, but this may change. I wonder, what will happen then.

The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, March 28, 2008, by Shailaja Neelakantan:

To combat a severe shortage of doctors and in a move to attract back Indian doctors settled abroad, the Indian government has decided to recognize graduate medical degrees from Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, provided they are recognized in the respective countries.

Until now, doctors with an undergraduate degree from India but a graduate degree from another country were not allowed to practice in India. Indian doctors with graduate degrees from the approved countries will now be allowed to practice in India at any public or private hospital. They can also be recruited to teach undergraduates in any medical college, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The doctor-per-person ratio (including practitioners of Western medicine, homeopathy, and Indian systems of medicine) is 1 to 870, according to the Indian government. Not including practitioners of non-Western medicine, that ratio increases to 1 to 1,634. In rural India 67 percent of enrolled doctors do not report for duty, according to the government.

“It is clear from the above statistics that the country is in dire need of medical specialists to cater to the increasing demands of public health care in rural and urban areas,” the health ministry said in its statement. “Vast stretches of the countryside are not well equipped with health facilities, doctors and para-medical staff, creating serious imbalances in the health sector.”

Increasing Indian medical-school enrollments and the number of medical specialists cannot be achieved immediately, the ministry said, adding there are many Indian citizens with foreign medical degrees living abroad who are willing to return to India.