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Does Kerala still have a deficit for psychiatrists?

If the data from The National Survey of Mental Health Resources carried out by the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which was done in 2002 (appendix 1, page 10 of this parliamentary document has data from it) is appraised now (12 years have passed), it might be safe to assume that as far as Kerala is concerned there might be no deficit for psychiatrists!

The survey pegs the ideal basic requirement for professionals as under

i. Psychiatrists : 1.0 per 1,00,000 population
ii. Clinical Psychologist : 1.5 per 1,00,000 population
iii. Psychiatric Social Workers : 2.0 per 1,00,000 population
iv. Psychiatric Nurses : 1.0 per 10 psychiatric beds.

Based on this ratio, places that were already having excess psychiatrists were Chandigarh (+22), Delhi (+18), Goa (+12), Pondicherry (+5).

States with most number of psychiatrists were Maharashtra (486), Tamilnadu (262), Kerala (238), Karnataka (198), Andhra Pradesh (180).

Kerala had a deficit of only 80 psychiatrists at that time (12yrs back) from a requirement of 318, calculated based on 1 psychiatrist/1 lakh population, for a population of 318 lakhs (census 2001). Since then population of Kerala has increased by another 15 lakhs to 333 lakhs as per 2011 census.

But with the recent annual turn over of 40 postgraduate seats for psychiatry in the state (which has greatly increased because of the beginning of postgraduate training in the private medical colleges) it might be safe to believe that the deficit for psychiatrists in the state may have been cleared!

Implication of this aspect with respect to mental health policy of the state need to  be considered. Certain aspects which need assessment are

  1. Ascertaining the geographical distribution of psychiatrists in the state and redeployment in Thaluk (sub-district) level and under represented areas,
  2. Continued deficit of allied professionals (see table below),
  3. Abandoning the hitherto doctrine of increasing mental health service-personnel by training primary care physicians.

Table 1 (created based on data from 2002 survey)

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