Serious shortage of physicians in the country: health official

June 30, 2019

TEHRAN- There is a serious shortage of doctors in the country, ISNA quoted Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi as saying on Sunday. 

According to Harirchi, there are currently 1.6 physicians (including the general practitioners, medical specialists, dentists and pharmacists) in every 1000 people, but there need to be at least 2.5 physicians in every 1000 people. 

“In many countries the parameters are even higher and they believe there should be 3.5 to 5 doctors in every 1000 people,” he added. 

“According to an initiative adopted by the Iranian parliament (Majlis), 30% of university places must be reserved for the students of deprived areas and they would in return make a commitment to work in those deprived areas triple the time they spent studying ; that is they give a commitment to work in such area for around 21 years.”

“The students who have been subject to this new law will be graduated next year and hopefully the initiative will resolve the shortage of doctors in deprived areas,” said Harirchi. 

How many doctors work in rural areas? 

According to Harirchi, currently, 6800 doctors work in rural areas; but not every village has a doctor; this is because the villages need to reach a certain standard population to be entitled to having a doctor. 

“Based on our own population standards, all the villages that are in need of doctors have them; however, sometimes even the villages which have as few as 50 to 100 families request for doctors, but the doctors are not distributed like this in any part of the world,” said Harirchi.  

“In fact, the distribution of doctors around the country is fair. The problem is that the Health Ministry can decide about the working area of each doctor only for the first two years of their practice and after that they decide for themselves about their working location.”  

“Therefore, we see that up to 40% of specialists work in Tehran, but we hope Majlis initiative for deprived areas solve this problem,” he added. 

A physician shortage is a situation in which there are not enough physicians to treat all patients in need of medical care. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a shortage of 4.3 million physicians, nurses and other health workers worldwide, especially in many developing countries.

SJ/MG

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