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India’s health centres are facing staff shortage as coronavirus cases continue to rise

Government and private hospitals are finding it difficult to recruit new and additional healthcare workers to care for Covid-19 patients even as the number of people testing positive continues to grow – 1.59 million as of July 30 – our reporting in five cities found.

The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the stress of an overburdened healthcare workforce. India has one medical doctor for every 1,404 people and 1.7 nurses per 1,000 people, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This is lower than the World Health Organisation benchmark of one doctor and three nurses per 1,000 people.

During the early weeks of the outbreak in India in March and April, a combination of caution and fear pushed many healthcare professionals to return home. At the same time, small hospitals and healthcare facilities, which were shut for varying periods during the lockdown, cut down staff due to reduced revenues and uncertainty. This led to a shortage of personnel when they reopened.

As a result, nurses, ward boys, lab technicians, sanitation workers and other staff have been finding themselves stretched due to longer shifts and inadequate protection against Covid-19, medical and healthcare professionals told IndiaSpend in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata. At the same time, fewer people are applying for vacancies for such jobs because of short-term contracts, low wages and poor working conditions,…

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