Growth in telemedicine reducing dependence on quacks


The WHO reports that there is no medical qualification for as many as 57.3 percent of the healthcare providers in India who claim to be physicians. They are informal suppliers or quacks in healthcare. And in rural and urban environments, they are present, but more so in villages. Though 60 percent of India’s population lives in rural areas, only 40 percent of healthcare providers operate there, according to a WHO survey, giving people no choice but to go to quakes.

With the growth of telemedicine in India, however, online consultations with physicians increased by 300 percent in 2020, people can now access a trained physician in rural areas. A study compiled by the Practo healthcare app and the not-for-profit Telemedicine Society of India on telemedicine growth in India in 2020 found that telemedicine grew by 750 percent in non-metros, including villages.

A dentist practising in Mumbai, Dr Mukund Tawari, said that he had many more patients from remote towns and villages this year. "It has become easier for them to consult us through video consultations. I have received online consultations from patients from villages in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Dr Tawari said that most of them were for issues such as toothache and first aid for broken teeth. The overall dental population ratio in India is 1:10,000, but one dentist serves 2.5 lakhs of people in rural areas, providing a fertile ground for dental quackery breeding.

The prevalence of unqualified medical practitioners is very high, especially in the rural environment, and a digital health policy has the potential to eliminate quackery and provide rural Indians with knowledge and accessibility to qualified specialist doctors, the report noted.

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