New Delhi: With India facing a shortage of about 600,000 doctors, the central government is now considering granting permission to Indian physicians abroad to practise in their homeland.
"The government would soon initiate talks with Medical Council of India (MCI) and Indian Medical Association (IMA) to work out modalities to help Indian specialists and experts in various disciplines practise medicine in their homeland," Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said on Saturday.
Ravi was addressing the second Indo-US Healthcare Summit organised by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in the capital.
"Several Indian physicians who have made a mark abroad are willing to return and we should use their expertise given the shortage of doctors in India. Licensing issues should not come in the way of using their knowledge," Ravi said.
According to the Planning Commission, India faces a shortage of about 600,000 doctors, one million nurses, 200,000 dental surgeons and large numbers of paramedical staff.
Emphasising that there is a shortage of physicians in rural areas lacking latest diagnostic and treatment procedures, Ravi said: "By granting permission to overseas Indian doctors to practise in the country, we will not only get the best brains but also committed physicians whose only goal is to serve and not make money."
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs is working closely with AAPI and Indian medical associations in various countries and would extend all assistance to NRI physicians to either set up practice or serve the rural poor, the minister said.
"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keen on setting up knowledge bank to draw the expertise of people of Indian origin and physicians as they could play a key role in knowledge transfer."
Ramesh Mehta, president of British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) said about half the population of Britain was being treated by Indian doctors.
"There are about 40,000 Indian physicians in National Health Service and Indians constitute more than one third of all physicians in the UK. We are very keen to do our best for India and willing to volunteer time and expertise to make India a robust nation," Mehta said.
Sanku Rao, president of AAPI, said the summit would help in preparing a monograph at the end of the two-day session and submit reports and recommendations to the government to improve healthcare in India.