'Country facing acute shortage of psychiatrists'

 The National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), aimed to cater to urban poor living in towns and cities, mainly migrants, is likely to be launched this year, said Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Speaking at the 17th Convocation of National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) in Bangalore on Thursday, the minister said: “ The launching of the NUHM, a dedicated public healthcare system, depending on the budgetary allocation, seems imminent in the light of rise in inflation.”

Noting the dearth of mental health doctors in the country, Azad said every year only 550 doctors passed out in the discipline. This amounts to a shortage of 87 per cent in the country. At present there is a shortage of 67 per cent of psychiatrists and 96 per cent of psychiatric social workers across the nation.

He said Mental Healthcare Act will be enacted to safeguard the rights of people with mental illness.

On the country’s failing health scenario, Azad said despite the grave situation plaguing the nation, doctors were reluctant to work in rural areas.

“Even as 70 per cent of our population lives in the villages, only 0.0004 per cent of doctors are available to address their health issues. Instead of avoiding to serve in rural areas, graduating medical students should take it up as a challenge to serve in the most remote areas,” he urged.

Also present at the convocation was Prof A F M Ruhal Haque, minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

As many as 28 PhDs were awarded on the occasion. Seven degrees were awarded in Doctor of Medicine (DM) Neurology, six in MCh Neurosurgery, two in DM Neuroradiology, 18 in MD Psychiatry and five in Diploma in Psychiatry.

Also, 41 candidates were awarded degrees in various MPhil courses, nine in MSc Psychiatric Nursing, five in BSc Radiology and 22 in BSc Nursing.  

Dr Patel Mehulkumar J, who won the silver jubilee award for best outgoing student in DM Neurology, said: “I took up neurology as it is challenging.”

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