Prepare for a shortage of nurses – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/et-editorial/prepare-for-a-shortage-of-nurses/articleshow/88263700.cmsSynopsis

Assorted nursing organisations are running a campaign to raise the profile of nursing, rather than the health insurance industry and the government. The medical profession and the government should invest in proper regulation and standards of nursing education and the training of assorted healthcare workers, to support domestic healthcare and boost remittance income.

Dr Devi Shetty observed, at the height of the pandemic, that when you are in a hospital’s intensive care unit, stricken by Covid, it is not the doctor‘s medication or intervention that saves you, but the nurse’s constant, expert care. The importance of nursing and nurses is only slated to grow, even if the current pandemic abates. Except in fatalistic cultures, the experience of the Covid pandemic will focus minds on preparing for the next pandemic. That would involve increasing care capacity, including training nurses in large enough numbers at the expert level. The staffing pattern of old-age homes, which have been sites of concentrated Covid fatalities, is likely to change, to increase the number of better-trained nurses. As it is, as the world ages, the demand for nurses grows.

When the world needs a larger supply of nurses, nurses from India are likely to be lured away, in large numbers. This need not be seen as a disaster, if we plan ahead for such an eventuality. The World Health Organisation puts the ideal number of nurses required to be 3 per 1,000 people. India today has 1.7 per 1,000. This shortage would be accentuated by external demand for nurses from India. The solution is not to ban migration of nurses or other healthcare workers but to increase their supply through education and training. Nursing should emerge a vital, respected and well-paid career. Colleges that train nurses, midwives, lab technicians, medical equipment operators and other paramedical professionals should be facilitated to come up and expand. These provide avenues of organised sector skilled employment to India’s vast armies of underemployed youth, both male and female.

Assorted nursing organisations are running a campaign to raise the profile of nursing, rather than the health insurance industry and the government. The medical profession and the government should invest in proper regulation and standards of nursing education and the training of assorted healthcare workers, to support domestic healthcare and boost remittance income.

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