As India aspires to achieve the status of an economic superpower, the country needs to maintain good health of its vast young population. In addition, when the health aspect comes into play, the role of doctors becomes all the more important. The ailing primary healthcare setup in India has failed to keep pace with the latest developments thereby increasing the load on tertiary centre.

Initially, the Primary healthcare system was seen as a guard against preventing the burden of diseases to an advanced stage and get preventive and cost-effective treatment. However, gradually that role became redundant with the lack of trained and qualified physicians. Hence, the entire burden fell on hospitals in cities and urban areas.

According to World Health Organization’s 2018 data, the Non-communicable diseases kill 41 million people each year globally. The WHO statistics further reveal that 15 million people die from an NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years every year. And most of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries which focus more on treating infectious diseases and ignoring NCDs. The major hurdle in tackling NCDs is the lack of trained physicians at the primary health care level where diseases can be prevented and detected early and given timely treatment. The major types of NCDs responsible for early deaths include heart attacks and stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, asthma and diabetes.

Upgradation Knowledge of Primary healthcare doctors

Rural physicians play a key role in initial emergency situations. It has been repeatedly suggested that primary healthcare doctors should receive basic training in providing emergency care in communities who are residing away from regional support services.

Also, with evolving diseases, the doctors in the rural health set up are unable to cope with patients’ expectations, as they are least equipped to treat the new diseases due to insufficient knowledge and training. There is a dire need to train rural physicians in the treatment and early detection of the diseases causing epidemics, especially non-communicable diseases including diabetes, hypertension. This timely re-education and training of doctors will also help in reducing the burden of patients on Tier one and Tier two hospitals.

Online Doctor Training

As technology advances in the medical field, a lot of other options could be exploited to train the physicians in remote and rural areas. For doctors having little time to venture out of their regions due to time and other constraints, and availability of the information at their finger could be the best way to train these doctors apart from organizing regular seminars and workshops.

Nowadays, with the advancement in technology, upgrade of knowledge has become possible for doctors through cloud-based technology where specialists doctors share their know-how about the latest developments in medical research and drugs invention. Most of these tutorials provide free access to their content where doctors can access it either through their smartphones or with other internet-linked devices. This online exercise is beneficial for doctors in a way as it helps to upskill them to provide better healthcare. The process of training doctors online serves the purpose of improved healthcare across the country.

Incentivizing primary healthcare doctors

Most of the doctors, both private and government, avoid working in non-urban centres citing lack of medical infrastructure, safety and sanitation issues. Though the government has attempted several measures to ensure doctors work in rural areas, there has been little success. Instead of adopting coercive measures, In focus on recruiting doctors and incentivizing them with both monetary benefits and improving working conditions. Such measures are expected to help in encouraging doctors to work in rural areas and re-train themselves to better serve the communities.

Primary level doctors: Backbone of Ayushman Bharat scheme

In the government’s universal health scheme Ayushman Bharat, a major thrust has been given to primary health centres. The government plans to upgrade Primary Health Centres (PHC) into Health and Wellness Centers (HWC). However, the lack of sufficient health-related infrastructure at PHCs may not drive the government’s well-thought agenda.

For the government’s mammoth insurance scheme to succeed, it must make efforts to re-educate and upskill doctors at primary level. For this purpose, the government may tie-up with private players willing to help in retraining physicians. It is now time for the government to rope such private players so that our doctors can provide quality and affordable healthcare to our vast population.