There are currently 3,288 vacant doctors’ posts in the state, reports state, which is being attributed to doctors going on study leave. As such, the state government is creating posts known as leave training reserve medical officers (LTRMOs). Those recruited will belong to “the rank of Group-A [Junior Branch] of [the] Odisha Medical and Health Services Cadre,” stated Dr Pramod Kumar Mehedra, Commissioner cum Secretary in the Odisha government’s Department of Health and Family Welfare. Governor Ganeshi Lal sanctioned the posts according to state health minister Naba Kishore Das, who added that “the doctors will be recruited soon.”
The current number of sanctioned doctors’ posts in the state stands at 6,719 according to the state health department, with the additional posts raising the total to 8,719. Posts have been created at both primary and community health centres. To facilitate filling the new posts, four new medical colleges have been established in the state and the number of seats in existing medical colleges has been increased, creating what an anonymous health department official quoted in The Economic Times described as “a larger pool of available doctors” from which to recruit new doctors.
Last year, Odisha ranked in the bottom ten states in terms of doctor-patient ratios. It was reported that the state would need to recruit 10,000 doctors to match the national average and 25,655 to meet World Health Organization (WHO) norms. The WHO recommends a doctor-patient ratio of one doctor for every 1,000 people; Odisha’s ratio stood at 1 : 2,749 in 2017. Projections estimated that Odisha would not be able to meet the 2017 national average ratio of 1 : 1,597 before 2025.
The step taken by the state government has been welcomed. “It is a commendable move and I thank the government for the step,” said Dr Nirakar Bhatt, president of the Odisha Medical Service Association. One hopes that the efforts to recruit extra doctors will bear fruit, for the good of the state and its people.