Host a healthy community
New institutes and revamped courses are necessary to increase the number of nurses and other healthcare professionals
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the demand-supply imbalance in healthcare services, including equipment, drugs, lifesaving machines and healthcare personnel.
Apart from COVID-19, India also faces other health issues like maternal and child health, nutritional deficiencies, and other communicable and non-communicable diseases. India has one government doctor for every 10,189 people, against the WHO recommendation of 1:1000.The nurse:patient ratio is 1:483, which implies a shortage of two million nurses. Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system and the pandemic has increased the pressure on an already overburdened workforce.
However, the crisis has also opened up many opportunities in this sector. To fulfil the gap in the number of nurses, universities and the Nursing Council should re-frame existing policies and create new strategies to increase manpower. The health sciences institutes that offer nursing programmes are not independent and cannot redesign the curriculum. Neither can they start new programmes or increase the number of seats.
Therefore, the Central and State Ministry of Health should review and modify this process so that new institutes can be opened to bridge the present gap. Another strategy is to allow the admission of an additional 15-20% for the upcoming academic year.
Institutions and universities should make optimum use of online classes and digital tools to organise webinars and increase interactions with students. The Nursing Council can consider a review of the current curriculum and reconstruct it keeping the pandemic and related needs in mind. To create a healthy community, all stakeholders should re-frame the present policy and enhance the quality of nursing education.
The writer is Principal, ITM-IHS College of Nursing