India is having a hard time to cope up with the problems in its healthcare system. And according to current records and researches, the most catastrophic problem is India’s doctor-patient ratio. Recently, the government revealed in Parliament that for every 1,445 people in the country, there is one allopathic doctor. This is far below the norm of one doctor for every 1,000 people prescribed by the World Health Organization. This imbalance has grave consequences for India’s beleaguered healthcare infrastructure. For example, two international studies show that doctors with a crushing workload are quicker to prescribe strong antibiotics even though they are obviously unnecessary, as they have no time to keep patients under observation.

Not only are patients suffering because of the shortage of doctors. But one of the main reasons for the mass abuse against medical practitioners is the distorted doctor-patient ratio. Regular communication between physicians and patients is crucial— for instance, how to break bad news can go a long way to resolving conflicts. The situation is much worse in government hospitals where the doctor-patient ratio stands at a shocking 1:10,189. The government doctors, a survey found earlier this year, were stretched beyond their limits, grossly underpaid and forced to work up to 30-hour shifts without a break. So it doesn’t come to one’s surprise that in 2018, the All India Medical Sciences Institute experienced three cases of resident doctor suicide due to pressure at work.

When Bengal and a few other states made it mandatory for doctors to serve a fixed period in villages, they appealed against the apex court’s mandate to call it “forced labor.” The ethics of service, as promised under the Hippocratic Oath— appears to have been ignored by the protesting electorate. Approximately 60% of doctors work in urban areas, despite the fact that rural India is home to about 70% of the population. There is a case for a significant increase in the grand total health budget of India to modernize rural facilities. Efforts to bridge the gap in India’s doctor-patient ratio should be done by the government and healthcare system collectively.