An official said that in an effort to bridge the gap between the need and availability of doctors, the health ministry is promoting courses in family medicine for medical practitioners.
"There is a gap between the need and availability of doctors," T. Sundaraman, executive director of the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC), told reporters at a two-day National Rural Health Mission-sponsored conference that began here Saturday.
The conference will give information about a two-year diploma and a three-year degree course in family medicine for medical practitioners, he added.
Delegates from India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are participating in the conference.
"While there are very few doctors available in rural areas, in urban areas it is mostly specialists. There are very few practitioners of good old family health care," Sundaraman said.
"The hospitals are for people who are rich and can afford it. People in small cities and rural areas go to quacks."
Raman Kumar, president of Academy of Family Physicians of India, said: "India is moving towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and National Health Mission (NHM). Multi-skilled and competent primary care providers and their knowledge figure prominently in the evolving schemes, themes and initiatives of our health care systems".
"Current health care scenario in India is staring at a crisis, as patients face increasing health care expenses due to the skewed emphasis on hospitals and super-speciality care," said Santanu Chattopadhyay, founder and CEO of NationWide Primary Healthcare Services Pvt Ltd.
"Much of this expense can be avoided if the primary care provision is strengthened, which can only happen when we have a robust system for training and producing more family physicians," he added.