50 psychiatrists for four lakh patients in state

50 psychiatrists for four lakh patients in state

Karnataka has continued to face a shortage of  psychiatrists despite a steady increase in the number of patients suffering from psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, substance abuse and depression.

There are just around  50 psychiatrists for a whopping  4 lakh patients across the state.  

The demand-supply gap between patients and  psychiatrists may not be filled as according to doctors there is no provision for recruitment of more  psychiatrists at taluk and district hospitals.  

The Report of Technical Committee on Mental Health (TCMH) 2016, constituted by National Human Rights Commission to evaluate mental health services in India, recommends  to employ at least one psychiatrist in every taluk hospital.

Dr Rajani, deputy director, mental health, department of health and family welfare, Karnataka, told DH: "Karnataka has around 50 psychiatrists which is much higher than many other states. There is no provision to employ  psychiatrists at  146 taluk hospitals and 2,500 Primary Health Centres (PHCs). Getting specialists in psychiatry is more difficult. We have psychiatrists in 28 out of 31 district hospitals across the state."

The number of patients across the state in 2015 was  60,000 which went up to 1.5 lakh in 2016 and around 4 lakh in 2017.  

Dr Prathima Murthy, a  psychiatrist from NIMHANS who was a part of  TCMH, pointed out that  psychiatrists in the state were unevenly distributed with low numbers in rural areas.  

Lucrative jobs abroad

"Nimhans produces 36 psychiatrists annually. However, many of them go abroad  due to lucrative jobs," she said.

The government has been taking steps since 2016 to ensure  medical services for patients suffering from various psychological disorders.

According to the department of health and family welfare, about 3,000 doctors serving in PHCs,  35,000 ASHA workers,  Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) and paramedical staff  have been trained for mental health, besides  11,000 school teachers to identify disorders among students.

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