Why doctors are rare in rural Indian areas


Missing Healthcare professionals in rural areas

Ca. 70 % of all Indians live in rural areas. These are ca. 900 million people. India is huge, and providing healthcare to all is an enormous challenge – for sure. There is a big number of people in need of healthcare and medical treatment. The number of professionals there is much too low. But: there is not just a “medical or financial” cause behind that.

When I meet a doctor working in a tribal hospital here in South India he explains me that there are incentive programs for young doctors to go to rural areas and that a 3- years-stay can have a benefit for a later PHD graduation. But 3 years are long and not possible to many doctors.

“The work with the rural and tribal people is really interesting and meaningful to me,” he explains, “but there is a huge challenge we cannot overcome. Just immagine you stay as a young man/woman in rural areas. There is rarly an opportunity to stay longer than 2,3 years. Most of my colleagues are married and have young children. The problem starts with the kindergarten education. It gets even bigger when school starts. The quality of school education in these areas is simply not the same as in cities.”

He sits in front with me together with his wife and his 3 years old son. “Yes,” adds his wife, “also for me it is a problem. I want to develop further also myself. But here it is difficult to develop. Then there are only a few opportunities to meet with others, there is no cinema, no theatre, no museum, no café. Continue studying or setting up a small business? No chance. And going often to the next city is simply too complicated and takes too much time.”

When I listen to them, I understand that we cannot solve the problem of “too less health care professinals in rural areas”  with healthcare-related incentives  only.  The decision of high professionals to work in the cities has often completely different causes. We have to look behind the curtains.

For some health issue we need solutions that are traditionally not health-related. A solution is possible only if we “collaborate across the social and business borders”, if we connect to different organisations  – with the aim to create solutions that are acceptable: we need good schools and kindergarten facilities, cultural events and a cultural network in rural areas. If these facilities are in place, doctors will come and not disappear after a few years.

Changemakers must think simply “beyond”, risk to do “unusual” pilots and talk to people out- of- their- comfort zone to succeed. As lon as we just go traditional ways of doing we will just get traditional results.

By the way: Not just in the rural areas of India – but even in many European countries we have the same issue.




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