India’s two biggest healthcare problems are the lack of doctors and low penetration of health insurance, according to cardiac surgeon and Narayana Hrudayalaya Ltd. founder Devi Prasad Shetty.
“We have hardly a tiny, tiny percentage of the population covered by health insurance,” Shetty told BQ Prime’s Muralidhar Swaminathan in an exclusive interview. “Without that (health insurance), no hospital will come up because people don’t have the cash money to pay for it in a country like India.”
According to him, there should be hundreds of health insurance companies across the country that offer insurance for a “few rupees” to a “few thousand”.
Nearly 600 medical colleges around the country produce only 100-150 doctors every year, said Shetty.
“Existing medical colleges should be allowed to produce at least 300-500 doctors a year. Then, over a period of 10 years, we will be able to produce adequate number of doctors,” he said.
He also underscored the need to increase the number of nursing colleges that would also add to people willing to join the workforce.
Even as the world struggles with a shortage of healthcare professionals, “no country” in the world has plans to fill up the gap.
“Everyone thinks that if there is a shortage we can always coach from other countries, but we, in India, we don’t have the luxury. We can’t afford to pay those salaries,” he said.