Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Plan panel mulls 2 nurses for every doctor

India plans to fix the acute shortage of nurse by 2025. The Planning Commission's high-level expert group on health has set a target to have a minimum of two nurses and one auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) for every available allopathic doctor.

Now, the nurse: doctor ratio in India is 1.05:1, and that of nurses and midwives to a doctor is 1.53:1. The group, headed by Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, in its latest report on universal health coverage has recommended opening of 382 new nursing schools and 58 nursing colleges in 216 underserved districts across 15 states.

It is estimated that there are 651,000 nurses and 296,000 ANMs - a combined nurse and ANM ratio of one per 1,277 population. This is in comparison to one per 2,250 population as estimated by the National Task Force for Nursing for the 11th Five Year Plan.

Existing nursing schools churn out 115,000 additional nurses annually. This included nursing schools for the General Nursing and Midwifery diploma and nursing colleges for the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree. However, the figure is skewed across states.

The report, available with TOI, says "Some positive changes have been observed over the past five years, with the addition of 539 nursing schools in 12 states of Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal."

"Despite these efforts, we have fallen short of requirements, to the extent that the National Rural Health Mission has had to appoint far fewer nurses than required due to their non-availability in many states. In 2010, only 57,450 of the required 276,000 required nurses were employed at primary and community health care centres," it added.

Implementation of the group's recommendations will make available an additional 780,000 nurses and ANMs by 2017. During the 13th plan, more nursing schools and colleges will be opened, adding 1.01 million nurses and ANMs from 2017 to 2022.

The need for specialized nurses has been felt in multiple clinical areas, including operation theatres, chronic care, midwifery, ophthalmology, ICUs, cardio-thoracic, and neurosurgery. The group expects the target to be achieved in four phases - 98 nursing schools and 15 nursing colleges in Phase A by 2015; 93 nursing schools and 14 nursing colleges in Phase B by 2017 and another 191 nursing schools and 29 nursing colleges in Phase C and D.

Source: The Times of India, October 5, 2011

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