Updated: December 16, 2021 7:28:33 am
Filling of sanctioned nursing positions at central and state levels immediately and setting up of additional ones at the directorates of various states were among the key recommendations made by ‘Think Change Forum’ (TCF), a think-tank dedicated to finding answers and solutions on critical issues in the post-Covid era.
On Tuesday, a dialogue was organised among nursing and midwifery experts from across the country to analyse issues plaguing the nursing sector. The discussion themed ‘Is India’s Nursing Infrastructure Ready for Another Wave’ saw participants representing nursing bodies, institutions, academia and international NGOs.
Based on the deliberations, the ‘Think Change Forum’ has released a five-point recommendation for immediately strengthening the state of nurses and midwives in India. These include urgently adopting the WHO norms as outlined in the Strategic Direction of Nursing & Midwifery (SDNM) 2021-2025, recently passed at the World Health Assembly 2021, and focusing on investment in nursing education, creation of positions and leadership.
Fast-track passing of the National Nursing & Midwifery Commission (NMMC) Bill and the repeal of the India Nursing Council Act 1947 were also recommended. Implementing a live register replacing the Nurses Registration & Tracking System (NRTS), increasing investments into nursing and midwifery education were among the other key recommendations.
India has over three million registered nurses and midwives who are responsible for the country’s 1.3 billion population, which is grossly inadequate. This is less than the WHO norm of three nurses per 1,000 people. India needs to add more than 4.3 million nurses by 2024 to meet the prescribed WHO norms, said the experts.
The optimum nurse-patient ratio recommended by the Centre and the Indian Nursing Council (INC) has not been implemented and as a result, one nurse is looking after 20 to 30 patients. It is adversely impacting the credibility of India’s healthcare system, experts pointed out.
The panel discussion underscored the need for an urgent review of the current organisational and management structures for nursing positions at nursing directorates and the strengthening of nursing management capacities. A special nurses human resources management system, technology-based platform for maintaining a live nurse and midwives register, need-based assessment of the number of nursing institutions for the population were some of the other recommendations.
Dr T Dileep Kumar, president, Indian Nursing Council said: “There is an urgent need to fill in the nursing cadre and positions to achieve an inclusive structure and adequate representation of nurses in policy making. Currently there are either a few or no fully functional directorates across states. While much progress has been made to recognise, strengthen and support nurses and midwives, much remains to be done to ensure their growth.”
Prof Dr Roy K George, national president of the Trained Nursing Association of India (TNAI), said: “India is a global supplier of nurses despite their shortage within the country. The nursing and midwifery profession is witnessing a large-scale brain drain from the country due to poor salary, working conditions and absence of a proper career pathway, and out-dated systems of professional governance. Despite forming a large part of the healthcare force, nurses and midwives continue to be short-staffed across the nation leading to poor nurse-patient ratio, increased workload, long working hours, double shifts which eventually lead to poor quality of treatment.”
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