India has Less Than 1 bed per 1,000 Persons in Hospitals
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08 October 2011
By , Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi , India
Need admission in a hospital? Chances are that you might not get a bed, however unwell you are. Here is one small example — the waiting time for a private ward under the neuro-surgery department at India’s premiere All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is around four to six months.
However, if a patient needs to be admitted in the general bed for the same surgery, the waiting time is more than a year.
And this, the Planning Commission says is because of India’s acute shortage of hospital beds.
The Commission’s high level expert group (HLEG) on health says that when it comes to secondary and tertiary care, India lags behind most other countries in the number of hospital beds per 1,000 population, despite having a higher absolute number of hospital beds than other countries.
The World Health Statistics says that India ranks among the lowest in this regard globally, with 0.9 beds per 1,000 population – far below the global average of 2.9 beds.
India’s National Health Profile 2010 says India has a current public sector availability of one bed per 2012 persons available in 12,760 government hospitals — around 0.5 beds per 1,000 population. Sri Lanka on the other hand has 3.1 beds per 1,000 population, China 3 beds, Thailand 2.2, Brazil 2.4, USA 3.1 and UK 3.9 beds per 1,000 population.
Shakti Gupta, HOD of hospital administration at AIIMS said: “It was recommended in 1948 by the Bhore Committee that there should be one bed per 1,000 population. However it’s been 63 years since then and we still haven’t been able to reach that target. At present, India has around 0.7 beds per 1,000 population.”
Gupta added “The main reason for this is that there was no extension of health care facilities for much of these 63 years. There was also no private sector at that time. Now, things will change because the thrust is more on day care centers. The concept is that patients should be investigated on day care basis and once found fit for surgery should be admitted. The average stay of a patient should be around three to four days. Earlier, we would admit a patient, waste 7-10 days on diagnosing the problem and then take him for surgery.” This has now made the commission recommendation to the government to expand functional bed capacity to 2 beds per 1,000 population by 2022. In its latest report on universal health coverage, the commission has said: “Given a population of 1,353 million by 2022, the HLEG estimates that 27.05 lakh beds will be required to achieve 2 beds per 1,000 population.”