Healthcare institutions can be planned as structures can be completed when required and equipment can be made operational as it is available in the market but the concern lies about human resource, it takes many years to develop experienced medical staff for a teaching hospital. In India we have 612 medical colleges out of which 322 are in the government sector and 290 are in the private sector, there are 163 nursing colleges in the govt. while 1833 were in the private sector. Many of these private medical and nursing colleges have been raised for commercial consideration and quality of education is far more than desired. Many of these colleges do not have dedicated hospitals but affiliations.
We need to emphasise on quality medical/nursing colleges rather than quantity as it ultimately affects healthcare of the community. There are approximately eight lakh nurses shortage in India. In the budget of 2023 the govt. has announced 157 new nursing colleges to overcome shortages of nurses, a welcome step but there are many factors of shortage and opening of colleges only would not solve the problem. The working conditions of nurses in India are far more than desired, they have long working hours, meagerly paid and have higher risk while working in hospitals. The society also does not recognize their work as desired. There are better alternate jobs available now like the IT sector which is more lucrative. It has five days a week working , where they often work from home and have no risk like working in hospitals. In fact, many nursing colleges are closing as there are no takers for nursing seats.
This scenario is seen in many countries of the west, research gives insights that the British Indian Nurses Association is planning to take 5000 nurses every year to the United Kingdom, there are nearly 30,000 nurses working alone in the UK. Would we be able to meet our requirement of nursing personnel if we do not look up their issues? We need to take a holistic view of total human resource for healthcare to improve healthcare delivery.
We need to develop Allied health Professionals on priority as it is still not properly regulated though one of the most important part of healthcare. The govt. has brought act but its progress is far more than desired.
The COVID-19 has shown the way that a lot more is required to be done for a healthy India. We need to act in mission mode and complete various initiatives launched recently in time bound fashion. Initiatives launched like digital health missions should not end up like “Health for All” by 2000. Health is a very important part as a healthy population makes a healthy nation.